Police: Man killed by officer at Ala. mall was not shooter
HOOVER, Ala. — Protesters on Saturday marched through an Alabama shopping mall where police killed a black man they later acknowledged was not the triggerman in a Thanksgiving night shooting that wounded two people.
An officer shot and killed 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. of Hueytown while responding to the Thursday mall shooting. Police said Bradford was fleeing the scene with a weapon.
Hoover police initially told reporters Bradford had shot a teen at the mall but later retracted the statement.
“We knew that was false,” said stepmother Cynthia Bradford when she heard police were blaming him for the shooting. She described her stepson, who went by E.J., as a respectful young man who is the son of a Birmingham police department officer.
Hoover Police Captain Gregg Rector said investigators now believe that more than two people were involved in the initial fight ahead of the shooting, and that “at least one gunman” is still at large who could be responsible.
Police said while Bradford “may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim.” Rector said police regret that their initial statement about Bradford was not accurate.
More than 200 demonstrators, including several relatives, chanted “E.J” and “no justice, no peace” as they marched past Christmas shoppers at the mall. They held a moment of silence at the spot outside a shoe store where Bradford was killed.
“They should have never have killed him,” Emani Smith, Bradford’s 7-year-old half-sister said, while other family members cried.
Family members described their horror of finding out from social media that Bradford was dead. Video circulated on social media of Bradford lying in a pool of blood on the mall floor.
The incident began Thanksgiving night with a fight and shooting in suburban Birmingham at the Riverchase Galleria, a mall crowded with Black Friday bargain hunters. An 18-year-old was shot twice and a 12-yearold bystander was shot in the back.
Protestors carry a sign reading “Justice for E.J.” during a protest at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama, on Saturday.