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Opinion | Alabama AG: There’s no such thing as a black good guy with a gun

EJ Bradford was murdered.

Let’s get that straight right up front.

On Thanksgiving night last year, Bradford went the Galleria mall in Hoover, where he did absolutely nothing wrong.

He didn’t break a law.

He didn’t break a rule.

He didn’t disobey a cop.

He didn’t act suspiciously.

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He just happened to be a black guy in an Alabama mall when a shooting occurred — a shooting he wasn’t involved in.

EJ Bradford was, in every way, exactly the sort of citizen that the boys in the Alabama Legislature say they want — law-abiding, pistol-toting, responsible gun owner. The “good guy with the gun” — that’s what Bradford was.

Until he was shot three times in the back.

By a cop.

A cop who never uttered a word in Bradford’s direction.

Never told him to stop.

Never told him to drop his gun.

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Never told him to raise his hands.

The video is clear as day. Bradford can be seen, gun drawn but being carried pointed downward and at his side.

Warning: Video contains graphic content.

The good guy with the gun retreats a few steps, gathers himself and then proceeds to take two steps toward the real shooters, the actual threats. EJ Bradford was running toward the bad guys.

And then, BAM! He goes down in a heap. The good guy’s gun goes sliding across the mall floor.

An autopsy paid for by his family showed he was shot three times, all of them in the back.

On Tuesday, Alabama’s attorney general, Steve Marshall, told the world that what happened in the Galleria that night to Bradford was a good police shooting.

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The officer will face no charges. He did nothing wrong, Marshall said.

Nothing wrong, except not turn his body cam on, not shout a command at Bradford before firing multiple times, not pause to gain a better understanding of the situation, not stop the actual shooter from fleeing.

Otherwise, yeah, solid effort.

But in reality, Tuesday’s announcement was no surprise. How could you ever be surprised in a man so cowardly that he didn’t have the decency to personally meet with Bradford’s parents? And let’s keep in mind that Bradford did absolutely nothing wrong because you can rest assured that if he had so much as jaywalked on his way into the Galleria that night it would have been in that report.

Everyone knew that when Marshall took the odd step of taking over the investigation — and all involved couldn’t explain it — that some real back-alley BS was about to go down.

And so, it was no surprise that Marshall’s report used the same loaded language as the Hoover PD, when it attempted numerous times to blame Bradford for his own shooting death. According to Marshall, Bradford was “a clear threat” when he went “charging” toward “innocent bystanders.”

But there’s video of this thing. I’d encourage you to watch it.

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If you do, you’ll see that Bradford didn’t have a chance to “charge” anywhere before the three bullets stopped him. And with his gun down at his side, he didn’t seem like a crazed gunman. And it’s probably worth remembering that Bradford was one of those innocent bystanders.

What Marshall and others are hoping is that you’ll allow race and NFL player protests and the buffoon in the White House cloud your judgment. That it won’t matter to you what’s actually on the video, just like it didn’t matter to them.

But try this. When you watch that video, try pretending that Bradford is your son or daughter, your husband or brother, your neighbor or friend.

Or, hell, just imagine he’s any white person on Earth.

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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