Officer faces no charges after he mistakenly shot and killed Black man in Alabama mall
An officer who shot a 21-year-old man to death at a mall in Alabama, after mistaking him for a shooter, will not be facing criminal charges. According to the investigation, the officer’s actions were justified, and he was just doing his job.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall shared the decision on Tuesday, stating that after reviewing the case, he concluded the officer, who remains unidentified, didn’t break the law and will not receive criminal charges.
The incident took place last Thanksgiving at the Riverchase Galleria mall in Hoover, Alabama. Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., was shot three times, in the head, neck, and back, according to the autopsy, by a police officer who was on duty on the mall.
According to reports, shots were fired at the mall, prompting shoppers to look for cover and run for their safety. The officer, acting in consistency with his training, draw his own gun and turned toward the sound of the gunfire. He then watched an injured man, identified as 18-year-old Brian Wilson, near a railing and another person trying to help him.
Bradford, the officer said, was walking towards them with a gun in his hand. So, believing Bradford was the initial gunman and that he was going to kill the victim and the bystander, the officer opened fire.
“The suspect was advancing on the two males and had a black handgun in his right hand,” the officer said. “I fired my duty weapon at the armed suspect to stop him.”
He also stated he didn’t have time to issue a verbal warning to Bradford, “due to the quickness of the event and the immediate threat Bradford posed” to the other two.
THE REAL GUNMAN
In initial reports, police identified Bradford as the gunman, praising the officer for his quick reaction. But they had to backtrack the declarations after Erron Brown, 20, was arrested and identified as the first gunman.
He was charged in November with attempted murder in the shooting of Wilson.
A Jefferson County judge Friday ruled that Erron Brown’s bond will remain at $60,000 but also sentenced the alleged Galleria shooter to five days in jail for contempt of court: https://t.co/RflZ4lRvUL pic.twitter.com/vDVdO3ftg0— AL.com (@aldotcom) February 2, 2019
THE FAMILY’S REACTION
The decision not to charge the officer in the murder of Bradford caused outrage among his family, friends, and supporters, who have been demanding for justice and said EJ’s only crime was “being black.”
Bradford's father, Emantic Sr., told reporters on Tuesday:
“My son was murdered. And you think I’m going to let it go? That was a homicide… You killed my son. You are a coward. You’re a coward too, Steve Marshall.”
'My son was murdered’: EJ Bradford’s family was outraged today by after his Thanksgiving night shooting death by a Hoover police officer was ruled justifiable.— AL.com (@aldotcom) February 5, 2019
“My son was murdered. And you think I’m going to let it go?,” Emantic Bradford Sr. said.https://t.co/uNm9TzBWvz pic.twitter.com/8nQwCUfXYb
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Bradford family, said that “E.J. went to his grave not knowing who shot him three times in his back.” He also stated that despite what the officer might believe, EJ faced no threat, as shown in released footage from the crime scene, and he was just trying to help the victim.
“E.J. Bradford did nothing wrong on that video," Crump stated. "Look at that video for yourself — he was not part of the initial confrontation, he runs away and gets his gun as he goes back to protect his friend, as he had every right to do."
Attorneys for the family of Emantic Fitzgerald “EJ” Bradford Jr. on Monday again called for the release of any and all video from the deadly officer-involved shooting inside the Riverchase Galleria: https://t.co/6fwcnYgiMg pic.twitter.com/IlCDsWZVkT— AL.com (@aldotcom) January 28, 2019
THE “REASONABLE” CONCLUSION
Despite the protests and anger call outs from the Bradford family, Attorney General Marshall believes the officer’s actions were not “unpresentable.”
“A reasonable person could have assumed that the only person with a gun who was running toward the victim of a shooting that occurred just three seconds earlier fired the shots,” he said. And added:
“While it is now known that EJ Bradford did not shoot [the gunshot victim,] Bradford still posed an immediate deadly threat to persons in the area."
THE REACTION FROM ‘BLM’ ACTIVISTS
After the decision was made public, demonstrators burned two American flags with the words “Black Lives Don’t Matter” painted on them outside Hoover City Hall. Activist Carlos Chaverst Jr. told onlookers at the gathering, "His life burned. And now this American flag is going to burn to represent what it’s like to be black in America."
Protesters enraged by Attorney General Steve Marshall’s decision to clear the officer who fatally shot Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover on Thanksgiving night burned two American flags in front of Hoover City Hall Monday night. https://t.co/06hZNDPYNC pic.twitter.com/hJ5SAQgmVR— AL.com (@aldotcom) February 6, 2019
Bradford’s family and supporters believe the case is just another proof of the existent racial bias in the police and the fact that officers see any black man with a gun as a threat. It sparks memories of the case that started the entire Black Lives Matter movement back in 2012 when officer George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Dillon Nettles, a policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said in a statement:
“Regardless of what the attorney general of Alabama said in his report, EJ Bradford’s life mattered. Black lives matter. We won’t stay quiet while law enforcement continues to inflict lethal violence against black people and attempt to justify it.”
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