By Erica Wright
After the shooting death of 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. by a Hoover police officer at the Galleria Mall outside Birmingham on Thanksgiving, the Alabama NAACP has released a statement condemning the act.
“Police officers must know the facts involved before pulling their weapons. Police officers must stop being trigger happy when it comes to our children,” said in the statement signed by Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama State Conference NAACP. “Police officers must stop being aggressive with young men of color and stop killing us. Police officers must use human rights tactics to engage who they believe is the perpetrator. A life has been lost because police do not see African Americans as humans.”
Over the weekend, Bradford’s family members hired Benjamin Crump to represent them. Crump is a civil rights attorney who represented Trayvon Martin’s family in the 2012 to 2013 George Zimmerman case.
Bradford’s family said in a statement, “Our family is completely shocked, heartbroken and devastated at the tragic death of our beloved ‘EJ’. EJ was a devoted son and brother, who dedicated his life to serving his country and always doing the right thing. As we continue to grieve, rest assured, that we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly what happened and why this police officer killed our son. We will never forget EJ, and ask for your continued prayers doing this incredibly difficult time.”
Police initially said they believed Bradford was the shooter in an incident where an 18-year-old male was shot twice and a 12-year-old girl was wounded and later transported to Children’s of Alabama. The girl is in stable condition. However, law enforcement said the investigation later revealed Bradford was armed, but likely did not fire the initial shots that wounded the 18-year-old and the 12-year-old, they said. The gunman is still at large.
Protestors gathered at the mall on Saturday in remembrance of Bradford.
“An innocent man is dead this morning because of implicit bias used against black and brown people . . . police officers must ask questions or at least use alternate forms or tactics to subdue their assailants,” the NAACP said. “A kill shot is not necessary, and in this case, the wrong man was killed. Shooting in a crowd is unlawful and puts many at risk as we have learned an innocent man, a United States Soldier has lost his life to a reckless and uninformed police officer.”
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is investigating the incident since it is an officer-involved shooting. The Hoover Police Department is conducting its own internal investigation.
The officer who shot Bradford was placed on administrative leave while authorities investigate the shooting. The officer’s name was not released publicly. The officers were not hurt.
This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.