CHICAGO – A suburban Chicago police department on Friday confirmed the name of the officer who shot a black security guard as he was detaining a suspected gunman who opened fire at the bar where he worked.
Officer Ian Covey, a four-year veteran of the Midlothian Police Department, shot 26-year-old Jemel Roberson on Nov. 11 outside Manny’s Blue Room Lounge, a bar in the neighboring suburb of Robbins, according to Police Chief Daniel Delaney.
The move marked an about face for the department, which had resisted releasing the officer’s name since the controversial incident. It also came just hours after an attorney for Roberson’s mother, Beatrice, added Covey as a defendant to a federal lawsuit against Midlothian.
The wrongful death suit was filed days after Roberson’s killing and initially listed Covey as “Officer John Doe.” Gregory Kulis, the attorney for Beatrice Roberson, has subpoenaed Midlothian and other law enforcement agencies whose officers responded to the incident to turn over any police dash camera or body camera video footage they captured at the scene.
“The Village of Midlothian has pledged to provide information to the public as soon as possible when doing so would not interfere with that investigation,” Delaney said in a statement.
The shooting outside Manny’s Blue Room Lounge has drawn national headlines, outrage and questions about whether race factored into the officer’s decision to open fire. Roberson was black. The officer is white.
Roberson was armed and licensed to carry a gun. He apprehended the gunman outside the bar, pinned him down and was waiting for police help when a responding officer from Midlothian arrived.
Police say the officer 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. Still, the officer shot and killed Roberson.
Delaney has praised Roberson as a brave man who was doing his job. He said he saw the incident ultimately 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 police officers from surrounding jurisdictions to rush to the establishment.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting inside the bar. The state police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating the shooting outside the bar. No charges have been filed in either incident.
State police had deferred release of the officer’s name to Midlothian officials. Village officials in turn pointed to the ongoing state police investigation as well as concerns about the officer’s safety for withholding public identification of Covey until now.
The Public Integrity Task Force has estimated it will complete its investigation by the end of April.