President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he met with the family of Jemel Roberson, a security guard who was fatally shot by police in Chicago's south suburbs in 2018.
"I've just concluded a meeting with incredible families, just incredible families that have been through so much," Trump said while speaking before signing an executive order on police reform measures as protests continue following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
Trump said he met with families of Roberson, Botham Jean, Antwon Rose, Atatiana Jefferson, Michael Dean, Darius Tarver, Cameron Lamb and Everett Palmer, who were all killed by police or died in police custody across the country. Trump said he also met with the family of Ahmaud Arbery, who prosecutors say three men chased in their trucks and boxed him in before shooting him and using a racist slur.
"These are incredible people, incredible people and it's so sad," Trump said. "Many of these families lost their loved ones in deadly interactions with police. To all of the hurting families, I want you to know that all Americans mourn by your side. Your loved ones will not have died in vain. We are one nation. We grieve together and we heal together."
Roberson, 26, of Chicago, was working as a security guard at a bar in south suburban Robbins, when he was killed by Midlothian Police Officer Ian Covey on Nov. 11, 2018.
Robbins police said the incident began as an argument inside Manny’s Blue Room Bar before shots were fired. Robbins police officers responding to the shooting requested help from Midlothian officers, including Covey, who saw Roberson with a gun and fatally shot him.
Investigators said Roberson was holding a suspect involved in the shooting at gunpoint when he himself was shot. Illinois State Police said in a statement that Roberson, who was Black, was not wearing clothing identifying him as a guard, though some witnesses said he was wearing a hat that read "Security."
"Upon his arrival, a Midlothian Police Officer encountered a subject in plain black clothing with no markings readily identifying him as a Security Guard, armed with a gun in the west parking lot," state police said. "According to witness statements, the Midlothian Officer gave the armed subject multiple verbal commands to drop the gun and get on the ground before ultimately discharging his weapon and striking the subject."
Roberson's family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer and the village of Midlothian following the shooting, calling his killing "unprovoked" and "unjustified."
"I can never imagine your pain or the depth of your anguish but I can promise to fight for justice for all of our people," Trump said in a message to the families he met with on Tuesday, adding, "And I gave a commitment to all of those families today with Sen. Tim Scott, Attorney General Bill Barr, we are going to pursue what we said, we will be pursuing it and we will be pursuing it strongly."
The order Trump signed Tuesday will establish a database that tracks officers with excessive use of force complaints in their records and would give police departments a financial incentive to adopt best practices and encourage programs in which social workers to join police in responding to nonviolent calls, among other reforms.