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Family of Jemel Roberson wants him remembered as a hero

Roberson’s family wants a memorial in his name in Robbins, the suburb where he was killed in 2018 while working as a security guard.

Avontea Boose, Jemel Roberson’s girlfriend, holds their daughter, Justice Roberson, during a news conference Thursday.
Avontea Boose, Jemel Roberson’s girlfriend, holds their daughter, Justice Roberson, during a news conference Thursday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Relatives gathered Thursday to remember Jemel Roberson, a security guard who was trying to detain a suspected gunman at a south suburban bar when Roberson was mistakenly killed by a responding police officer.

“He was a hero,” Roberson’s girlfriend, Avontea Boose, said at a news conference outside the Daley Center on Thursday, three years after his death.

Boose said her daughter, Justice Roberson, who was born several months after her father was killed, recently put a Band-Aid on a picture of Roberson.

“It’s definitely hard raising her, but I do what I have to. I’m strong,” she said, noting Justice and her brother, Tristan, 4, talk to their late father sometimes in the middle of the night.

Boose wants elected officials in Robbins to name a street after Roberson or create a mural or some other official memorial in his honor.

A message left with the mayor of Robbins was not immediately returned.

Roberson, 26, was working as an armed security guard at Manny’s Blue Room Lounge in Robbins when a shooting occurred. Roberson was holding his gun as he tried to apprehend someone he believed was involved in the shooting when a Midlothian police officer arrived on the scene and shot Roberson.

Midlothian Police Chief Dan Delaney called the shooting a “tragic incident” and equated it to a “blue on blue,” friendly fire incident.

Attorneys, community activists and allies demand justice for Jemel Roberson on his three-year death anniversary at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Thursday afternoon, Nov. 11, 2021.
Relatives and community activists on Thursday demanded justice for Jemel Roberson, who was killed outside a Robbins nightclub on Nov. 11, 2018.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

In October 2020, nearly two years after the shooting, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office announced it would not bring charges against the officer who shot Roberson.

“It might feel to some people like justice was not served here. I have both an ethical and legal obligation to make charging decisions based on the law and the evidence,” Foxx said at the time.

Attorney Lee Merritt, who’s representing the family in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer and the towns of Robbins and Midlothian, said he’s investigating the case and hopes to present Foxx with new evidence that could persuade her to reexamine her decision.

“Foxx met with the family and told them the file was closed because she didn’t have enough evidence. We’re seeking that evidence,” Merritt said.

Roberson, who lived in Homan Square and was a graduate of Lane Tech, aspired to be a police officer and had an affinity for playing the organ at many churches across the city.