A forensic examination shows a black man was shot three times in the back of his body when an Alabama police officer mistook him for a shooter after gunfire erupted at a crowded shopping mall, the man’s family said Monday.
The results of a report commissioned by the family are “devastating” to relatives of Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., their lawyer, Ben Crump, said at an emotional news conference.
Emantic Bradford Sr. angrily jabbed his finger at the TV cameras as he addressed the unnamed officer, saying: “You’re a coward!” The officer in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover should be charged with homicide, Bradford said, “because this is murder.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson also attended the news conference at the Rock, a small church EJ Bradford attended in north Birmingham. Jackson said authorities’ refusal to release video evidence smacks of a cover-up.
Police in Hoover reiterated Monday that they won’t release officer video or other evidence about the Thanksgiving night killing until the state investigation is complete. They released a letter from state investigators expressing concern that the investigation could be jeopardized or hindered if information is released.
A statement from the city, a Birmingham suburb of 85,000 people, didn’t directly address the findings of the family’s forensic examination but said the Bradfords should share it with authorities. Crump said they already had.
Crump said the forensic pathologist hired by the family determined Bradford was struck by one gunshot that entered the rear of his skull, another that hit the back of his neck and a third that penetrated his lower back.
The report didn’t indicate the order of the shots, and the pathologist’s report did not indicate whether more than one person shot Bradford.
But Crump said any of the three shots could have killed the 21-year-old.
“There were three kill shots,” Jackson said.
Police initially described Bradford as the person who opened fire at the mall as Black Friday shopping began on Thanksgiving night, and authorities called the officer a hero for his swift response.
Officials then backtracked, saying Bradford wasn’t the initial shooter. They said Bradford had a handgun visible after the initial gunfire, and the city and police said that action increased the threat level for responding officers.
Protests have occurred almost daily since the shooting, and a number of people showed up at the Hoover City Council meeting Monday night. Council members adjourned the meeting after demonstrators in the audience repeatedly shouted “EJ” and “no justice, no peace.”
City Council members had a statement read earlier in the evening saying they wanted to “formally express their regret for the misinformation provided to the public that later implicated [Bradford] as the shooter” and to offer sympathy to Bradford’s family.
Erron Martez Dequan Brown, 20, of Bessemer was arrested last week in Georgia on charges of shooting a teenager who was wounded at the mall, 18-year-old Brian Xavier Wilson of Birmingham. Authorities transfered him from Atlanta to the county jail in Birmingham on Monday.
A girl also was shot and wounded, but authorities haven’t filed charges in her case.