Jemel Roberson’s mother Beatrice said to mourners on Saturday that she had “no hate” in her heart for the suburban police officer who shot and killed her only son, but she said losing him “hurts like crazy.”
“Yes, I’m going to miss him like crazy, yes I’m hurting like crazy, but I praise God for knowing that my son . . . found his way into a household of faith,” Beatrice Roberson said. “I didn’t like that [security guard] job, but my son, that’s the kind of work that he loved to do. He loved to help people and I just thank God for that.”
At the House of Hope on the city’s South Side, more than 300 family members and friends packed the church to remember Roberson, the 26-year-old black security guard who was killed Nov. 11 by a white Midlothian police officer outside a Robbins night club after Roberson had helped subdue a gunman.
The Lane Tech grad has since been called a “hero” for his actions that night, with the Midlothian police chief deeming it a tragic incident of “blue on blue friendly fire.”
People passed Roberson’s casket to pay respects at the funeral as a photo montage showed the slain security guard from infancy to adulthood, showing him with his son and mother among others. Choir members wore shirts emblazoned with the word “security” above “#JusticeforJemel”in large white block letters.
Loved ones spoke of Roberson as a “people person” with an affinity for playing the organ at a number of churches across the city.
Roberson’s aunt Louise Roberson said her nephew was only doing his job when his “precious life” was taken.
“My nephew Jemel Roberson was shot and killed by a racist, white Midlothian police [officer] who should’ve come to serve and to protect, but he came to steal, kill and destroy,” the aunt said. “A little boy will never know his father, a loving mother has lost her only son, a family loses their loved one. No more will his voice be heard.”
Joseph McNeal, who described himself as a police officer and a mentor to Roberson, said he’d been “tormented” in the weeks since Roberson’s death, because McNeal felt if he’d been there, his “brother would be here.”
“The truth of the matter is it wasn’t about me being there, it was about a cop who needed to believe in justice to be there — to have the power to take life or to restrain it — to believe in equality, and to know that even though a black man with a gun can be a criminal, another black man with a gun can be a hero,” McNeal said. “And that’s what my brother was.”
Roberson’s mother has filed a federal lawsuit claiming excessive force in the shooting, which is being investigated by the Illinois State Police.
Andrew Stroth, an attorney representing Roberson’s family, said after the service that “it’s tragic that a nine-month-old baby boy no longer has his father because of an unjustified and unconstitutional actions of a police officer.”
“I’m heart broken right now,” said Avontae Boose, the mother of Roberson’s child. “My kids will not see their father for any holidays and we just want justice for him.”