'Your man shot my man!' Videos show anguish following police shooting of black security guard
Witnesses say Officer Ian Covey shot security guard Jemel Roberson while he was subduing a man who opened fire inside a Chicago-area nightclub. USA TODAY
CHICAGO – Authorities on Monday released chilling video footage of the chaos and anguish after a suburban Chicago police officer shot an African-American security guard outside a nightclub in November.
The videos, which were released by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by USA TODAY and other outlets, show onlookers screaming at police as security guard Jemel Roberson lies lifeless in the parking lot of Manny’s Blue Room Lounge in Robbins, Ill.
“Your man shot my man,” a distraught fellow security guard shouts at one Cook County sheriff’s deputy. “The police shot security, that’s what happened. The guy has (expletive) vest on, and we get shot. It’s … stupid.”
Witnesses told police that Roberson was subduing a man who had opened fire inside the bar when Midlothian, Ill., police Officer Ian Covey arrived on the scene and shot him.
Covey was one of several officers from nearby law enforcement agencies who rushed to the scene.
The Nov. 11 shooting spurred outrage and questions about whether race factored into the officer’s decision to open fire. Covey is white. Roberson was black.
Roberson, who was licensed to carry a gun, apprehended the gunman outside the bar and pinned him down and was waiting for police help when Covey and other officers arrived, witnesses told police.
Police say Covey ordered Roberson to drop his gun. Witnesses say they shouted at Covey that Roberson was a security guard. Roberson was wearing clothing emblazoned with the word “security” when he was shot, his mother said in a federal lawsuit.
Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney has praised Roberson as a brave man who was doing his job. He said he saw the incident as a "blue on blue," friendly-fire shooting.
The person Roberson apprehended had allegedly fired a weapon inside the bar moments earlier, wounding multiple people and drawing Covey and other officers, police said.
Illinois State Police are investigating the shooting of Roberson. They say they expect to complete a report on their findings by April.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting inside the bar. The office has not announced charges.
Midlothian police have declined to release video from the incident. But Cara Smith, the chief policy officer at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, said her agency determined “under state law, and in the interests of transparency” that it was obliged to release videos it had gathered in its investigation.
The footage includes police dashcam video of officers rushing to the scene, body camera video of officers interacting with an angry crowd, and cellphone video captured by onlookers.
In one body camera clip, the distraught security guard tells a sheriff’s deputy that Covey had entered the club and then exited back into the parking lot, pointing his rifle wildly. (Warning, video includes graphic images and explicit language.)
"I’m telling (Covey), 'He working with us, cool out. He’s working with us,' " the security guard says. "(Covey) shot him four or five times. After we told him he’s with us.
“Did he not see us with vests on, bro?” the anguished guard asks.“Why would I have a vest on, bro? This (expletive) ain’t for fun.”
The guard fumes for several minutes. Then one sheriff’s deputy takes him aside and quietly urges him to “man up” and help authorities understand what happened.
“If this was bogus, we want the (expletive) to be held accountable,” the sheriff’s deputy says.“If what you’re saying is true, you got to have the good head on your shoulders, bro. You gotta make yourself a credible witness, not a hostile witness.”
The sheriff’s deputy tells the security guard he understands his anger. He also notes that his fellow deputies – “us in brown” – had just shown up.
“I don’t need anyone else getting hurt,” the sheriff’s deputy says. “We just need to get the truth out of this (expletive).”
Follow USA TODAY national correspondent Aamer Madhani on Twitter: @AamerISmad