After admitting to mistakenly killing Emantic “EJ” Bradford, Jr., following a mall shooting that left two other people injured in Alabama, the credibility of local law enforcement was lacking, to put it mildly. And now, to add insult to literal injury, it appeared that the Hoover Police Department was concealing both the name of the officer who fired the fatal shot as well as the accompanying body cam footage that was presumably rolling at the time of the shooting in the Riverside Galleria on Thanksgiving night.
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While an arrest for the actual suspect came Thursday, it wasn’t nearly enough solace for Bradford’s grieving family, which was never notified by police about the shooting and had to find out on social media. On top of that, police have consequently avoided meeting with local civil rights leaders over the hasty killing of a legally armed man in an open carry state. The response, or lack thereof, seemed to follow the standard recipe in the aftermath of other high-profile shootings of Black men.
“We sent a letter to the mayor and police chief of Hoover to request a meeting. But they haven’t given us a date,” Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton told NewsOne during an interview Thursday. “It appears that they’re dragging their feet.”
Bradford, a 21-year-old member of the U.S Army who was legally armed and brandishing his gun to reportedly save lives in the mall shooting that was started by someone else, was shot on sight by apparently implicitly biased police accused of only seeing the color of his skin. It was immediately announced that Bradford was the mall shooter before police admitted its avoidable error when it was learned that Bradford’s gun had not been fired. Some witnesses said the 21-year-old veteran was helping others escape the shooting.
While Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato, Police Chief Nick Derzis and City Councilman Derrick Murphy — the only Black member of Hoover’s city council — met with Bradford’s family to “express their sincerest condolences and prayers to Mr. Bradford’s family on their loss,” the gesture appeared to be too little, too late, Simelton said.
“They have not been very respectful or considerate of what the family is going through,” Simelton said of Hoover leadership, adding that it took several days for city officials to sit down with Bradford’s family.
Authorities dragged Bradford’s good name through the mud before admitting their mistake, following the post-shooting script of other departments that have slandered dead victims of police shootings. Botham Jean was demonized by police for having a small amount of marijuana in his home even though he was unarmed when Amber Guyger illegally entered his home and killed him in Dallas in September. In suburban Chicago, police were refusing to release the name of the officer who killed Jemel Roberson, a legally armed security guard who was subduing a gunman when cops opened fire on him earlier this month.
The same thing was happening in Alabama with the killing of Bradford, whose mother April Pipkins said she called the local coroner’s office to confirm EJ’s death because police failed to contact the family. None of this would have happened if he was white, Pipkins told the Associated Press on Tuesday, the same day Simelton attended a prayer and justice meeting with Bradford’s family at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.
“EJ’s mom was overcome by emotion had to be taken by an ambulance to the hospital. EJ and his dad had a close relationship. This is happening while he’s battling cancer,” Simelton said. “It’s taken a toll on them. They are holding up the best they can.”
Like in Dallas, Hoover officials handed off the case to state investigators almost immediately, which allowed them to avoid answering key questions and releasing video evidence.
“I don’t think they had any intention of being transparent about what happened,” Simelton said.
Some activists have protested at the Riverchase Galleria mall where the shooting happened and called for a boycott to “shut down” Hoover, but Simelton said the NAACP wanted to take a different approach.
“The mall is not at fault,” he said. “This is about the Hoover police and the way they handled the whole situation. We want to put the blame squarely on them.”
He had a conference call Wednesday night with NAACP members who called for community meetings with the police to reach an understanding of each other.
“We know and respect the work they do, but as a citizen, you have a right to go and come without a police officer shooting you,” Simelton said, adding that the NAACP was also calling for Black folks to elect officials who understand and act on their interest.
Citing historical precedent, Simelton’s prediction for the case wasn’t remotely optimistic.
“I don’t have high confidence that anything will be done, in terms of punishment of the police officer or the police department,” he said. “I think they will use the excuse that the officer thought he fired at the right person.”
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76 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Ariane McCreeSource:The Herald/YouTube 1 of 76
2. Terrance Franklin2 of 76
3. Miles HallSource:KRON4 3 of 76
4. Darius TarverSource:S. Lee Merritt 4 of 76
5. William Green5 of 76
6. Samuel David Mallard, 196 of 76
7. Kwame "KK" Jones, 17Source:facebook 7 of 76
8. De’von Bailey, 198 of 76
9. Christopher Whitfield, 319 of 76
10. Anthony Hill, 2610 of 76
11. De'Von Bailey, 1911 of 76
12. Eric Logan, 5412 of 76
13. Jamarion Robinson, 2613 of 76
14. Gregory Hill Jr., 3014 of 76
15. JaQuavion Slaton, 2015 of 76
16. Ryan Twyman, 2416 of 76
17. Brandon Webber, 2017 of 76
18. Jimmy Atchison, 2118 of 76
19. Willie McCoy, 2019 of 76
20. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 2120 of 76
21. D’ettrick Griffin, 1821 of 76
22. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 22 of 76
23. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 23 of 76
24. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 24 of 76
25. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 25 of 76
26. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 26 of 76
27. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 27 of 76
28. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 28 of 76
29. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 29 of 76
30. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 30 of 76
31. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 31 of 76
32. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 32 of 76
33. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 33 of 76
34. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 34 of 76
35. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 35 of 76
36. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 36 of 76
37. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 37 of 76
38. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 38 of 76
39. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 39 of 76
40. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 40 of 76
41. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 41 of 76
42. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 42 of 76
43. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 43 of 76
44. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 44 of 76
45. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 45 of 76
46. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 46 of 76
47. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 47 of 76
48. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 48 of 76
49. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 49 of 76
50. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 50 of 76
51. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 51 of 76
52. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 52 of 76
53. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 53 of 76
54. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 54 of 76
55. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 55 of 76
56. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 56 of 76
57. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 57 of 76
58. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 58 of 76
59. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 59 of 76
60. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 60 of 76
61. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 61 of 76
62. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 62 of 76
63. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 63 of 76
64. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 64 of 76
65. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 65 of 76
66. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 66 of 76
67. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 67 of 76
68. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 68 of 76
69. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 69 of 76
70. Patrick Harmon, 5070 of 76
71. Jonathan Hart, 2171 of 76
72. Maurice Granton, 2472 of 76
73. Julius Johnson, 2373 of 76
74. Jamee Johnson, 22Source:S. Lee Merritt 74 of 76
75. Michael Dean, 28Source:S. Lee Merritt 75 of 76
Alabama Police Who Killed EJ Bradford Jr. Aren’t Being Transparent At All, NAACP Says was originally published on newsone.com