The village of Midlothian has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit stemming from the shooting death in 2018 of Jemel Roberson by police outside a Robbins nightclub, according to the law firm representing Roberson’s estate.
A Cook County judge still needs to approve the settlement, which the village agreed to July 6, according to John Coyle, a partner with the Philadelphia law firm McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt.
Roberson was shot by Midlothian police Officer Ian Covey Nov. 11, 2018, while working as a security guard at Manny’s Blue Room Lounge in Robbins.
A fight broke out between two groups of men inside the bar. Shots were fired and four people were struck, including a man suspected of being the gunman.
In the chaos, Roberson managed to detain a man witnesses identified as a shooter and was holding him on the ground at gunpoint when Covey arrived armed with an AR-15 rifle.
Covey ordered Roberson to drop the gun and fired on him when he didn’t comply, according to state police.
Witnesses said the officer did not give Roberson adequate time to respond to his verbal commands and ignored their warnings that Roberson was a security guard, not a suspect.
Witnesses said Roberson, who was armed with a handgun, was wearing garb clearly marked with the word “Security.”
The 26-year-old Roberson was shot four times, an autopsy showed.
In October 2020, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said her office would not bring charges against the officer.
She said at the time that her office had “concluded that the totality of the evidence is insufficient to support criminal charges against” Covey.
The lawsuit against the officer and Midlothian was filed in November 2019 on behalf of Roberson’s estate, with the mother of Roberson’s daughter, Avontea Boose, serving as administrator of the estate and plaintiff in the case, Coyle said. The sole beneficiary of the estate is Roberson’s daughter, Justice, according to the attorney.
The case is being heard by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathy Flanagan, and Coyle said he did not believe a status date had yet been set where the judge might sign off on the settlement.
Under the terms of the settlement, Midlothian officials do not admit to any wrongdoing, Coyle said.
An attorney representing Midlothian in the case did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.
Coyle said that talks aimed at settling the case out of court had gone on for about a year, and that at the time talks got underway, the “trial was still a little ways off.”
He said that Boose did not wish to comment on the settlement. He said it could be a few months before the settlement money reaches her.
“There is nothing that can be done to bring back Jemel, but this puts his daughter in a financial position that she will be taken care of for the rest of her life,” Coyle said.
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Boose was Roberson’s girlfriend and they had a son together, Tristan, who was 9 months old at the time his father was killed, and Boose at the time was expecting a baby girl, who turned 3 in June.
In June 2020, just days after Justice’s first birthday, Boose was at the White House, explaining to President Donald Trump why the infant had been deprived of the chance to ever meet her father.
At the June 13 meeting, Boose was joined by families of other Black victims of police violence who shared their stories with the president prior to his signing of an executive order on policing reform.
She later told the Daily Southtown that the hourlong meeting was great and said she felt the president had listened attentively and engaged with her as she told Roberson’s story.
Roberson’s mother, Beatrice Roberson, had initially filed a complaint against Midlothian and Covey in federal court in Chicago in November 2018.
After Boose was appointed administrator of Jemel Roberson’s estate, she was substituted as plaintiff in the federal action. In September 2020, Boose voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit on the advice of her lawyers, Coyle said. That was followed by the filing of the lawsuit in state court.