CLEVELAND — Cleveland resident Tonya Robertson doesn't believe her son, 21-year-old Melvin Robertson, deserved to be shot by an off-duty Cleveland police officer back on Aug. 2.
Police say Melvin Robertson was shot by off-duty officer Robert Taylor, who was working security at the Giant Eagle on West 117 Street.
Taylor told investigators Robertson pointed a gun at him in the parking lot following an argument that started inside the store.
Tonya Robertson admitted her son had a gun in his pocket, but said she believes her son when he told her he was trying to run from the scene and wasn't a threat to the off-duty officer when he was shot in the hip.
“I’m extremely upset, I want to look that man in the eyes and ask him how could he gun down a 21-year old kid like that," Robertson said. “He wasn’t a threat to you at all. All he was doing was running away, and you shot my son like a dog. No he did not point a gun at that man, no he did not. If he wanted to stop him, he could have shot him in his leg.”
Robertson family attorney Terry Gilbert with Friedman, Gilbert and Gerhardstein told News 5 he'll be working to collect video and witness evidence in the coming weeks to uncover the truth. Gilbert told News 5 he's disappointed an independent agency like the Bureau of Criminal Investigation wasn't called in to determine if Taylor acted properly.
“There’s a lot we don’t know," Gilbert said. "But you know, doing this work for many, many years, you get a gut feeling that something doesn’t sound right. We have to try to keep pressure on the city to make sure that they do a thorough investigation, and better yet, turn it over to another agency independently. You’ve got to remember this was in a parking lot at Giant Eagle in the middle of the day, and there were a lot of witnesses.”
Cleveland police found a gun at the scene which resulted in Robertson being charged with receiving stolen property and having a weapon under disability on Aug. 11.
Cleveland Police Union President Jeff Follmer told News 5 he disagrees with the Robertson family account of what happened, and said Melvin Robertson had plenty of opportunity to get rid of his weapon before the confrontation in the parking lot. Follmer said Taylor told investigators Robertson was trying to pick up the gun when he shot him.
Still, Tonya Roberston said she will prove the truth in court as her son deals with serious injuries and the investigation into the case continues.
“The officer shot him from the back, the bullet went into his hip with the way he was running," Robertson said. “But through the grace of God my son is still here today, because I pray for my kids, I pray for my babies."