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Bradford family attorney: Autopsy shows no threat posed to police officer who killed him

Brandon Moseley

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On Monday, the Bradford family announced that an independent medical review of Emantic “E.J.” Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. indicated that E.J. had been shot three times from the back. Bradford was 21 and lived in Hueytown.

The family has retained nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney, Ben Crump. Crump said in a statement that “EJ posed no threat to the off-duty Hoover Police Department officer who killed him.”

“EJ’s family commissioned this review by an independent pathologist to determine how EJ was killed, how many times he was shot, and whether he was shot from the front or the back,” Crump said. “This review conclusively documents that EJ was shot three times and that all shots entered his body from the back. It clearly demonstrates that EJ posed no threat to the off-duty Hoover Police Department officer who killed him while working a private security detail at Riverchase Galleria mall, since EJ was moving away from him. If anything, the evidence corroborates the testimony of multiple witnesses who said EJ was trying to help others. The findings are devastating and heartbreaking to EJ’s family, compounding the shattering impact of this unnecessary and unwarranted killing. The sooner all the evidence, including all videos and the local medical examiner’s autopsy, is released, the better. EJ’s senseless death is the latest egregious example of a black man killed because he was perceived to be a threat due to the color of his skin. This tragically unacceptable pattern will not end until all who bear a measure of responsibility are held accountable.”

Benjamin Crump has previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

According to police accounts, Bradford and his friend, Brian Wilson, age 18, were involved in some sort of altercation with Erron Marquez Dequann Brown and some other unnamed individuals in a dispute that began over some sale priced shoes. At some point, Brown pulled a firearm and shot Wilson. A 12-year-old girl who was shopping with her grandmother was shot in the back. Bradford also pulled a weapon. An off duty Hoover Police officer who was working security for the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover rushed to the scene, saw Bradford with a gun and shot him. The next day, the Hoover officer was being praised by Hoover officials for shooting the shooter. The bullets in Wilson, however were determined to not have come from Bradford’s gun. Officers insist though that Bradford was involved in the altercation where the other two people were shot and had a gun in his hand when the first officer arrived on the scene. The family claims that they have witnesses which say that Bradford was protecting other shoppers and helping them evacuate the scene. Authorities have since identified Erron Brown as the shooter. He turned himself in to the U.S. Marshalls near Atlanta last week.

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Many Black groups have held protests accusing the Hoover Police of shooting Bradford because he was Black; and are attempting to intimidate shoppers away from the city in response.

On Wednesday, there was a meeting of the various groups at Muhmmad Mosque No. 69 in Birmingham. The Nation of Islam, Black Lives Matter, the New Black Panther Party and the Jefferson County Millennial Democrats all gathered there for a “Justice for E.J. Community Forum.” Some of the speakers have called for “war” against the entire city of Hoover. An estimated 200 people were at the event.

Jefferson County has had well documented racial divisions going back decades. To this point in 2018, 155 people have been murdered in Jefferson County, 105 of those were killed in the City of Birmingham. Only three of those were killed in Hoover, not counting Bradford.

The Riverchase Galleria Mall is the largest mall in the state.

The case is being investigated by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
(Original reporting by the Hoover Sun and WVTM Channel 13 TV contributed to this report.)

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ACLU, NAACP make demands of authorities following Hoover police shooting

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, the ACLU of Alabama and Alabama NAACP filed public records requests to police departments in Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Hoover, Huntsville, and Saraland for their use-of-force policies, body camera policies, and racial bias training materials, following the Thanksgiving shooting of Emantic “E.J.” Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. and other incidents where excessive use of force has been accused in Alabama.

The civil rights groups said that they are calling for “transparency and accountability.”

“Far too often, the concept of ‘reasonable force’ has been distorted to justify police officers killing or seriously injuring people of color for indefensible reasons,” stated ACLU Alabama policy analyst Dillon Nettles. “The death of EJ Bradford by the Hoover Police Department is a reminder of the tragic loss a family and community faces when law enforcement utilizes lethal force.”

“Law enforcement must implement transformative reforms that build public trust and lead to humane, equitable, and constitutional policing in all communities,” Nettles said. “We plan to fight for that transparency by collecting policies, practices, and data for departments across the state in the hope that it leads to greater accountability for violations of law, policy, and community trust.”

“Too many of our young black males, in particular, are being shot and killed like animals and no one is held accountable,” said Alabama NAACP President Bernard Simelton. “These tragic scenes must stop. The people in our communities deserve to know the policies and procedures that Law Enforcement Agencies use when engaging individuals with weapons. The NAACP has advocated for use of body cameras by police officers so that the community could see really what happened, but when Law Enforcement refuses to release the video to the public, it does not help the situation. It is as if the video was never taken.”

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In addition to E. J. Bradford, they cited: Chikesia Clemons, a Black woman wrestled to the ground and exposed for making a complaint at a Waffle House in Saraland; Ulysses Wilkerson, a Black teenager, beaten and hospitalized in Troy; Sureshbhai Patel, an elderly Indian man, slammed to the ground in Madison; and Greg Gunn, a Black man shot and killed walking home in Montgomery.

Simelton and Nettles claim that incidents of excessive and oftentimes lethal force, particularly towards people of color, is an epidemic. The Washington Post reported that 987 people were shot and killed by police in 2017.

They did admit that police officers do not see a systemic issue. A Pew Research Center poll released in 2017 found that two-thirds of the nation’s police officers believe the deaths of Black Americans during encounters with police are isolated incidents and not an indication of broader problems between law enforcement and the Black community.

They claim in a statement that this, “Disconnect between law enforcement and Black people shows that culture shifts and internal reform of police policies are needed to prompt agents of the law to foster a positive, trusting relationship with the communities they serve. Given this recent tragedy, Alabama law enforcement must be held to the same principles of transparency and open decision-making that other government officials accept as a condition of operating in a democratic society.”

The public records request is available at:

https://www.aclualabama.org/sites/default/files/prrletter20181212-useofforce.pdf

On Wednesday night, protestors crowded the Target store in Hoover. Several groups are protesting Hoover because of their view that the slaying of E.J. Bradford by a uniformed off-duty Hoover police officer at Hoover’s Riverchase Galleria in the moments following a shoot over some shoes was unjustifiable. The Bradford shooting is still under investigation by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).

Some individuals have called for a boycott of the city of Hoover.

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Bradford family attorney: Autopsy shows no threat posed to police officer who killed him

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 3 min
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