Almost two years after an Illinois police officer shot and killed a Black security guard, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has concluded that no charges will be filed.
In November of 2018 Midlothian, Illinois police Officer, Ian Covey fatally shot 26-year-old Jemel Roberson.
Roberson was working as a security guard at a bar in a suburban area of Chicago when a man came in and started shooting. According to Adam Harris, a witness who was at the bar, Roberson grabbed the shooter and pinned him to the ground. Harris told WGN that Roberson “had somebody on the ground … with his knee in back, with his gun in his back like, ‘Don’t move.’ “
Moments later, Officer Covey arrived at the scene and fatally shot Roberson.
After the shooting Illinois police released a statement saying, “According to witness statements, the Midlothian Officer gave the armed subject multiple verbal commands to drop the gun and get on the ground before ultimately discharging his weapon and striking.”
However, according to Harris, he and other patrons in the bar told Covey that Roberson was a security guard before he was shot. “We all yelled, ‘He’s a security. He’s a security,’ and without … giving any thought, they shot him,” Harris, a witness, told WGN. “The vest said security as well … and they shot him in the side.”
The shooter was not killed and it is unclear as to why he was shooting in the first place.
Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney called the incident “tragic” at the time.
“What we have learned is Jemel Roberson was a brave man who was doing his best to end an active shooter situation at Manny’s Blue Room,” Delaney wrote on Facebook.
Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx said Friday the evidence is “insufficient” to support criminal charges against Covey.
“After an extensive and thorough review of the police-involved shooting resulting in the 2018 death of Jemel Roberson, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) has concluded that the totality of the evidence is insufficient to support criminal charges against Midlothian Police Officer Ian Covey,” the news release from the attorney’s office states.
Foxx’s office explained its decision, saying “Covey encountered a loud and chaotic scene” and spoke with “two separate security guards” who led him to a parking lot where they thought the shooter was. There, Roberson was straddling a man on the ground while “wearing all black clothing with no identifying markins.”
“I am acutely aware in this age of civil unrest that police-involved shootings are viewed under a microscope, as they very well should be,” Foxx said in a statement. “The death of Jemel Roberson is tragically heartbreaking, and while 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.”
Illinois State Police conducted the initial investigation into the shooting, but the state’s attorney’s office is responsible for making any criminal charging decisions.
“I’m angry, and I’m very, very hurt,” said Beatrice Roberson, Jemel’s mother. “And I just don’t have, I don’t have no trust in the justice system.”
“I will not stop fighting for Jemel as long as I live,” she said at a news conference. “As long as I live, I will be trying to get justice that he deserves. My family and I will never be able to put this behind us.”
“We learned that Ian Covey, when he saw a black man with a gun, he thought criminal,” said Gregory Kulis, attorney for the Roberson family.
The scope of this investigation included interviewing over 100 witnesses and evaluating physical evidence and information surrounding the events, the state’s attorney’s office said.
A secondary review of the investigation was conducted by the Office of the Illinois State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor, who agreed that no criminal charges should be filed against the officer.
Roberson’s family has also filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit.