HOOVER, Ala. – The family of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., a black man killed by police in an Alabama mall on Thanksgiving, says he was wrongfully shot. They want the release of all video from that night. Police killed Bradford Jr. after two people were wounded in a shooting at the Riverchase Galleria Mall.
Investigators first said he was responsible, but later said he was likely not the shooter. Hoover police now say at least one gunman is still at large. Police said Bradford Jr. was holding a gun and that’s why they mistook him as a threat, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. But Bradford Jr.’s family said their son was killed because he was black.
“Emantic would be the one trying to get people out of harm’s way. That’s the type of person he was,” Bradford Jr.’s mother, April Pipkins, said.
Bradford Jr.’s family says police owe them answers and an apology after their son was mistakenly identified as a gunman.
“You shoot first and ask questions later? It’s backwards,” Pipkins said.
“My peace of mind and my quality of life has been taken from me,” father Emantic Bradford Sr. said.
Bradford Sr. is a police officer himself. He said Hoover police made several mistakes that night.
“My son always respected the police and if you would have given a command when you came around that corner, say freeze, drop your weapon, he would have complied with your order,” Bradford Sr. said.
Since Thursday’s shooting, the local community has rallied around Bradford Jr.’s family. On Saturday night, the family joined about 200 protesters outside the mall demanding action.
“The pattern in America is if there’s a good guy with a gun and he happens to be black, police don’t see him as a good guy,” family attorney Benjamin Crump said.
“You think [Bradford Jr.] being black meant that he was presumed guilty,” Strassmann said.
“Absolutely,” Crump said.
The family said releasing body camera video and surveillance footage will allow the family to heal and could help solve the case.
“I want to see the evidence. I want to see the video footage,” Pipkins said.
“You want the truth,” Strassmann said.
“Yes, I want the truth. I want justice for my son,” Pipkins responded.
In response to the shooting, the Hoover Police Department said it is conducting an internal investigation and the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave. They also said in a statement: “We can say with certainty Mr. Bradford brandished a gun during the seconds following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene. Body camera video and other available video was immediately turned over to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department as part of the investigation. Now, all evidence has been handed over to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to lead the investigation. Release of any video will be done as ALEA deems appropriate during the investigation.”
The community will continue to push for a stronger response with more protests planned for Monday.
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