Po­lice: Man killed by of­fi­cer at Ala. mall was not shooter

Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday) - - NATION/WORLD - BY KIM CHAN­DLER

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.

KIM CHAN­DLER/AP

Protestors carry a sign read­ing “Jus­tice for E.J.” dur­ing a protest at the River­chase Gal­le­ria in Hoover, Al­abama, on Satur­day.

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