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Opinion | Hoover police shooting exposes deep issues

“We’re sorry.”

Those are the words you’re looking for, Hoover Police Department. Those are the words you’re looking for, City of Hoover. Those are the words you’re looking for, Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato.

Those are the words that should have been said to the family of Emantic Bradford Jr. last Friday — the day after a Hoover Police officer shot him dead inside the Galleria Mall following a fight in which a still-at-large gunman shot two people.

But that’s not the path any of these entities or people chose.

Instead, for nearly a week now, Hoover city officials and police officials have tried repeatedly to justify the unjustifiable act of shooting Bradford. And in doing so, all involved have repeatedly blamed Bradford for his own death.

First, he was the shooter, and everyone was cheering the cop — the “good guy with a gun” — who stopped the mall shooter.

Then, oops, Bradford wasn’t the shooter but was definitely involved in the altercation that led to the shooting.

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Then, oops again, maybe he wasn’t involved in the altercation after all, but he definitely was near the scene and was “brandishing” a handgun.

And finally, oops yet again, he wasn’t so much brandishing the weapon as he was simply holding it as he apparently ushered other bystanders to safety.

What is wrong with y’all?

This makes the fifth questionable police shooting that I’ve covered in this state over the last few years, and I have been consistently amazed in every case at the unwillingness of cops and city officials to own up to mistakes.

Not only do they resist admitting they were wrong, they actively fight it. As if saying it out loud is the only thing that makes it real.

I mean, look at the nonsense the Hoover PD has tried. Even when they clearly knew that Bradford wasn’t the shooter and wasn’t involved in the altercation that led to the shooting and was posing no threat, someone at Hoover PD still sat down and typed up a press release that justified shooting him.

Instead of simply saying, “Hey, we really messed up.”

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While such an apology wouldn’t solve the problem that led to this shooting, it would go a long way towards healing what is now a deep rift between Hoover PD and the black citizens that they serve.

As it stands, there are protestors blocking traffic and disrupting business in and around the mall and chanting outside of the mayor’s house. All because those who should know better won’t simply say what everyone now knows to be true.

The other problems — the ones that led to the shooting of Bradford — those are a different story.

Because those are rooted in Alabama’s No. 1 problem — race.

I can’t tell you with certainty that Bradford would be alive today if he was a white man, but I’m absolutely certain that he would have a better chance.

Hell, that man did what every conservative gun nut dreams of when they plop down the money for their pistol — he was the good guy with a gun. Bradford was protecting himself and using his 2nd amendment rights to protect the innocent people around him, if the most recent reports are accurate.

(And by the way, under Alabama law, he didn’t need a carry permit to have his firearm. Alabama is an “open carry” state, which means when that officer encountered Bradford with a firearm clearly visible — no matter whether he had a permit or not — he was within his rights.)

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This is the America we wanted, right? It’s the one that’s supposed to make us safer — the one in which there are good guys with guns protecting everyone from bad guys and mass shooters and those dudes in Nakatomi Plaza.

But this good guy was viewed as an immediate threat. And shot dead. His life ended at 21.

A good police department in a good city with a good mayor would ask why that happened and seek to make sure that it never ever happens again.

And they would have long ago apologized profusely for it ever happening in the first place.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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