CHICAGO (AP) — A security guard who was working at a suburban Chicago bar when a black co-worker was fatally shot by a white police officer said Wednesday that he never heard the officer order the other man to drop his gun.
The comments from Dorian Myrickes came hours after Illinois State Police released a statement saying witnesses have told investigators that the officer ordered security guard Jemel Roberson to drop his gun before opening fire. Police were responding to a gunfight early Sunday at Manny’s Blue Room in Robbins that injured four people, including Myrickes.
Myrickes, who was shot in the shoulder, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his hospital room that he clearly heard several people shout at the officer that Roberson — who was holding a suspect at gunpoint — was a security guard.
It was not the only aspect where Myrickes’ account differed from that of the news release that Illinois State Police issued Tuesday night that for the first time addressed in detail what happened in the predominantly black community of Robbins just south of Chicago. The agency declined to comment beyond the release, which came as questions have swirled about whether the shooting was justified and whether race played a role.
In its release, state police said Roberson was wearing “plain black clothing with no markings readily identifying him as a Security Guard.” However, Myrickes said all the security guards wore knit hats emblazoned with the word “Security” on them and that Roberson wore a black sweatshirt with the word “Security” on the back of the shoulder. But he also acknowledged that it’s possible the officer could not see the white lettering from where he was standing.
Myrickes was one of six security guards working at the bar at the time, but he is the only one so far to come forward publicly to discuss what happened. A bar patron also told reporters earlier that he heard people yelling at the officer that Roberson was a security guard.
Myrickes, 43, said the initial shooting at the bar stemmed from a fight between two groups of people. As security guards tried to separate them and lead them out separate doors, “Somebody came back and opened fire,” Myrickes said.
He said he wasn’t armed and that he doesn’t believe other security guards fired their weapons.
The officer who shot Roberson was from the nearby community of Midlothian and was among several officers from various agencies who responded to the shooting. Myrickes told the AP that the officer ran into the bar and pointed his gun at a bar customer, the bartender and Myrickes. Myrickes said he informed the officer that he was a security guard, and the officer then went outside.
Looking out the door, Myrickes said he “could see Jemel had one guy face down, asking him to put his hands behind his back” when he saw the officer point his weapon at Roberson.
“I never heard the cop demand him to do anything, (but) everybody was telling him (Jemel) was security.”
Myrickes also noted that none of the other responding officers opened fire.
The officer’s name has not been released. He is on paid leave.
Video of the shooting could reveal exactly what happened, but the agencies involved have not said whether any exists. If any police bodycam video exists, no state law requires that it be released. The Chicago Police Department releases video within 90 days of a shooting, but that policy does not apply because that agency’s officers were not involved.
Kulis, who has filed a motion asking a judge to order the agencies to preserve any footage they have, also said he doesn’t yet know how many times Roberson was shot or where on his body he was shot.
“I talked to the family after they viewed his body and they said they (authorities) did not tell them how many times he’d been shot,” he said.