Georgia Police Kill Diabetic Black Man After Family Calls 911 Requesting Ambulance
On Friday afternoon, 43-year-old Jack Lamar Roberson was shot to death by Waycross police officers in front of his mother, fiancé and 8-year-old daughter.
Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner said Monday that his officers were responding to an emergency call about a suicide threat and were updated en route that the man had become combative and was damaging items in his home.
When police arrived, Roberson lunged toward them “aggressively armed with two items used as weapons,” said Tanner, though he refused to specify what those items were. The officers yelled repeatedly for him to drop the weapons, but Roberson “gained ground on the officers and raised one of the weapons in a threatening manner,” forcing police to open fire in self-defense.
The two officers responsible have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), a standard procedure in police shootings.
Meanwhile, Roberson’s family vehemently disputes the police version of events.
Alicia Herron, Roberson’s fiancé and girlfriend of 10 years, says she called 911 to request an ambulance for Roberson out of concern for his diabetic condition. But police arrived at their home instead.
Contrary to police claims, Herron insists Roberson’s hands were empty and in the air when he was shot and that no words were exchanged during the encounter.
“He didn’t have nothing in his hands at any time or period at all before they came, any time while they were here, anything. They just came in and shot him,” Roberson’s grief-stricken fiancé told First Coast News. ”He didn’t say nothing, the police didn’t say nothing, anything, it was like a silent movie. You couldn’t hear anything, all you could hear were the gun shots go off and I seen them going into his body and he just fell down.”
Herron believes that police were shooting to kill, telling Channel 4 News, ”They shot my baby, he had his hands up. They didn’t Taser him, they didn’t warn him. He came out with his hands up. They shot him in his chest more than once.”
Roberson’s mother, Diane Roberson, echoed Herron’s account, adding that her son’s hands were empty and in the air when he was gunned down by police. Speaking with Channel 4 News, she recalled, “I was here — and my son was coming from the kitchen. He saw the officer over there. The officer didn’t say anything. My son raised his hands. The officer took his gun, fired — one, two, three. I heard four shots. My son fell. Nothing in his hands.”
Immediately after the shooting, around 100 people gathered in the neighborhood to express outrage at Roberson’s death, describing him as a devoted father, partner and son who never caused any trouble.
In a video report by First Coast News, Diane Roberson is seen crying, “I saw my son go down with his hands up in the air, Lord Jesus, he had nothing in his in hands, we don’t even own a decent kitchen knife and they shot my baby down.”
The encounter is reminiscent of a Waycross police-involved shooting in April 2012, when an officer shot Andrew Poole, a 26-year-old unarmed black man, in the stomach at his home. Over a year later, GBI has yet to complete its investigation into the shooting, pointing to a potential pattern of impunity in the Waycross Police Department.
Roberson’s family plans to hire a lawyer. In the meantime, they are struggling with the trauma of witnessing the killing of their loved one, particularly Roberson’s daughter, 8-year-old Zelphia Roberson.
As Roberson’s mother explained, ”It’s pain, it’s a mother’s pain, her first born to be shot down in her face. My granddaughter’s got to have intense therapy.”