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.
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.)