An Alabama officer will not be charged in the fatal Thanksgiving Day shooting of 21 year old E.J. Bradford at a Birmingham area mall. State Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that his investigation found the officer did not break the law and will not be charged in the death of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford Jr. The facts of the case demonstrate that the officer “reasonably exercised his official powers, duties, or functions when he shot E. J. Bradford on the night of Nov. 22, 2018,” the report states.
Bradford’s shooting happened as officers were responding to a report of gunfire at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover. At 9:52 pm on November 22, 2018, an altercation involving four people occurred near the Footaction and JCPenney stores on the second level of the mall. One of the men, Erron Brown, reportedly drew a weapon and shot 18-year-old Brian Wilson twice before fleeing the area. Stray gunfire also hit a 12-year-oil Molly Davis.
According to the Alabama State Attorney General’s report, approximately five seconds after the shooting, two officers from the Hoover Police Department approached Bradford, who was “running toward the initial shooter and victim with a firearm visibly in hand.” One of the officers fired shots at Bradford from behind, striking him 3 times in the head, neck and lower back. The attorney general’s report says the officer mistakenly believed Bradford had fired the earlier shots and was justified in shooting him. The officer saw Bradford running toward the shooting scene with a gun and believed he was trying to kill the shooting victim, according to the report.
Police initially described Bradford as the gunman and said officers acted heroically to “take out the threat,” but later corrected themselves and identified Erron Brown as the alleged shooter. Brown, 20, was arrested in Georgia a week later and charged in the shooting of Brian Wilson and Molly Davis. The attorney general, whose office took over the investigation from the local district attorney in Hoover, also released surveillance video and other documents from the investigation.
E.J. Bradford had enlisted in the army in 2017 and completed basic training, but was administratively separated in August 2018. He was a licensed gun owner and was reportedly attempting to protect the mall patrons when he was shot. Bradford’s killing sparked weeks of protest last year and protests erupted again after the announcement that the officer would not be charged. Bradford’s father called the attorney general “a coward” for the report’s finding. “My son was murdered. And you think I’m going to let it go?,” Emantic Sr. told reporters Tuesday. “That was a homicide … You killed my son. You are a coward. You’re a coward too, Steve Marshall.”
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Bradford family, said officers stated in the attorney general’s report that they did not give Bradford any verbal warning. “We don’t have any evidence whatsoever that E.J. ever knew the police officers were there whatsoever. E.J. went to his grave not knowing who shot him three times in his back.” Crump said that race played a role in Bradford’s death and that a civil lawsuit claiming wrongful death will be filed.