Family of man killed by Hoover Police in Galleria shooting retains civil rights attorney

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Emantic “EJ” Bradford (Ben Crump Law, PLLC)

(11-25-18 at 5:11 p.m.) Editor's note: The photo used in this story, received from Ben Crump Law, PLLC, shows the victim, Bradford, in U.S. Army uniform. On Sunday night, The Tribune received the following statement from U.S. Army Media Relations via WVTM 13: "Bradford did not serve in the Army, as he never completed advanced individual training."

BIRMINGHAM – The family of the man shot and killed at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover on Thanksgiving night has retained a civil rights attorney. The man killed, Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr., 21, was shot by a Hoover police officer who was responding to a shooting at the mall. Police originally thought Bradford was the suspect in the shooting, but according to The Tribune's Birmingham news partner WVTM 13, "In a news release issued Friday night, Capt. Gregg Rector says new evidence in the investigation shows that there may be at least one gunman still at-large, who could be responsible for shooting an 18-year-old male and a 12-year-old female."

Hoover Police said Friday night on social media:

Our department does not typically issue media updates during an internal investigation but there was information discussed with local media last night that merits update and clarification. Preliminary information gathered last night indicated that two individuals were involved in a physical altercation that led to a 21-year-old male shooting an 18-year-old male multiple times. The 18-year-old victim was indeed shot and transported to UAB Hospital, where he remains today. The 21-year-old male who was fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun, was engaged, shot and killed by a uniformed Hoover police officer. The 21-year-old has now been identified as Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, from Hueytown, Alabama. Over the past 20 hours, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene technicians have interviewed numerous individuals and examined several critical evidentiary items. New evidence now suggests that while Mr. Bradford may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim.

Investigators now believe that more than two individuals were involved in the initial altercation. This information indicates that there is at least one gunman still at-large, who could be responsible for the shooting of the 18-year-old male and 12-year-old female. We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not. We remain committed to maintaining the integrity of this investigation, helping determine the facts involved, and assisting ALEA in their efforts. We encourage anyone with information, photos or video evidence of this crime scene to please contact ALEA investigators. If you wish to remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward you may contact Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama at 205-254-7777.

Below is the text of a press release from the office Ben Crump Law, PLLC, issued Saturday:

Members of the Bradford family have retained national civil rights attorney Benjamin L. Crump of Ben Crump Law, PLLC in the shooting death of 21-year-old Emantic “EJ” Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. Bradford, 21, was fatally shot and killed by a Hoover police officer while shopping on Thanksgiving night. Witnesses say Bradford, who was an honorably-discharged military veteran and licensed to carry a concealed firearm, was assisting in the pandemonium resulting from an altercation at the mall, when he was engaged and killed by a Hoover police officer. Law enforcement has confirmed that Bradford was more than likely not the individual who fired the initial shots, causing the following injury and outbreak of pandemonium.

Statement to the family of Emantic “EJ” Bradford:
“Our family is completely shocked, heartbroken and devastated at the tragic death of our beloved “EJ”. EJ was a devoted son and brother, who dedicated his life to serving his country and always doing the right thing. As we continue to grieve, rest assured, that we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly what happened and why this police officer killed our son. We will never forget EJ, and ask for your continued prayers during this incredibly difficult time.”

Protesters gathered Saturday:

The Alabama NAACP issued the following statement Saturday:

ALABAMA NAACP STRONGLY CONDEMNS HOOVER POLICE SHOOTING

An African American male was shot and killed by Hoover Police at the Galleria Mall in Hoover, AL on Thanksgiving Day. Not only was an African American male shot and killed in response to an altercation and gunfire, but the wrong man was shot and killed. According to news reports, the Army soldier who was killed, was running as well as other shoppers in the mall, away from shots being fired. We have learned that many shoppers also drew their weapons in response to the shots being fired. But this one black male was the only one shot and killed by police.

The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP is calling on our legislators to create legislation to end excessive force against black and brown people. We have learned that the police officer has been placed on administrative leave, but real and lasting consequences need to be taken against police officers who use excessive force. The Alabama NAACP believes those officers should be immediately removed and never allowed employment with any police force or establishment where using a gun is a requirement.

Police officers must know the facts involved before pulling their weapons. Police officers must stop being trigger happy when it comes to our children. Police officers must stop being aggressive with young men of color and stop killing us. Police officers must use human rights tactics to engage who they believe is the perpetrator. A life has been lost because police do not see African Americans as humans.

“The headlines this morning read that the shooter is still at large.” This is a real problem, not just in Alabama, but in our country.” “We have accepted this as the norm and it is not normal to be in a police state. An innocent man is dead this morning because of implicit bias used against black and brown people. If we have a gun or not, black people are still treated in an inhumane way. Police officers must ask questions or at least use alternate forms or tactics to subdue their assailants. A kill shot is not necessary, and in this case, the wrong man was killed. Shooting in a crowd is unlawful and puts many at risk as we have learned an innocent man, a United States Soldier has lost his life to a reckless and uninformed police officer” said Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP. “We need to know the standard of procedures used in this case and why was this young man left on the floor to die without CPR being rendered to save his life,” added Simelton.

Just last week, in Chicago, a security guard was attempting to stop a gunman at a bar and police killed the security guard because he was black.

The Alabama NAACP is calling on other organizations to join in this effort to put an end to extreme and excessive police force.  “We are all human beings, and This is not what America stands for,” added Simelton.

We will continue to update the community as new information becomes available.

Benard Simelton, President of Alabama NAACP