“Let’s just follow the rules here,” said U.S. District judge Joan Lefkow.
by Jayme S. Ganey
Attorneys representing Jemel Roberson’s family said they knew the name of the officer who shot him, but wanted the Midloathian Police Department to release it. On Monday, Gregory Kulis and Lee Merritt filed a motion to release the name, along with a subpoena requiring the state police to turn over all reports, witness statements, names and footage.
U.S. District judge Joan Lefkow said no on Tuesday. Siding with the police’s attorney, Michael Stephenson, who called it “an attempt to side-step the basic rules of motion practice,” Lefkow said, “Let’s just follow the rules here.”
Stephenson complained that there wasn’t enough time to review the subpoena and respond. Kulis had asked for all information by Nov. 30. Stephenson requested Dec. 17 to respond — 30 days from the time it was issued.
Lefkow also said the media has spun the state police’s preliminary findings, though she said she had not reviewed the news release containing the findings.
The Illiniois State Task Force released preliminary findings, less than three days after the incident, which contradicted reports that Jemel Roberson wasn’t easily identifiable as a security officer when the shooting occurred.
“The public should have the right to know who this officer is,” Kulis said in court Tuesday. “I should have the right to know who this officer is.”
“Why can’t they just give me the name of the individual?” he said.
Kulis also had said of what had been released from the Robbins Police Department, that it was “kind of bizarre” that the report doesn’t mention Roberson or his death. It does identify the bar shooter and the four gunshot victims.
It seems that while this story of delayed information about police shootings and the judicial system failing people of color when it comes to justice is not new, shooting a security guard is an anomaly.
“In 35 years, I’ve never seen security get shot by police,” said Abe Khan, owner of Chicago’s Reliance Security Services. “I would like to know what happened. It’s crazy. Police officers don’t do that.”
If proper attire identifying him was a factor, then there would not be a need to fire.
Anthony C. Thompson, Professor of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law, said incidents involving police and armed Black men continue to “propagate the notion that Black America and white America have a very different approach to law enforcement.”
“If a Black man has a gun in America, police have their hands on their trigger,” Thompson said.
When a white person has a gun, “there is a different outcome.”
Reader Question: Do you think the judge should have approved the motion requesting the police officer’s name to be released?