Governor and Lawmakers Asking for Patience From Public in Hoover Shooting Investigation, Some Want More Information From ALEA
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey pledged Monday that information about the shooting death of an armed man by police would be made public, but she urged patience.
“This is a very serious situation going on in Alabama right now,” Ivey said in a statement to BirminghamWatch. “The State Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the homicide investigation and I trust their report will shed light on what really happened. We have to allow them time to gather all the information and I assure you, when their investigation is complete, the truth will come out.”
There is no specific timeline for state law enforcement to complete its inquiry into the death of Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., 21. Video of the shooting likely won’t be released until the investigation is done. Meanwhile, at least one state lawmaker has asked for its release, along with more information, to the public.
Bradford’s is the 13th police-involved fatal shooting in the state this year, according to The Washington Post.
Public protests followed in the two weeks after Bradford’s death and more are planned.
“The best thing we can do is wait for all the facts to come out, and that takes time,” state Rep. Allen Treadaway, R-Morris, said Monday. “Let the facts lead to the conclusion.”
Treadaway is the assistant police chief in Birmingham and chairman of the Alabama House’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
“We just ask that people be calm and allow this process to work out,” Treadaway said.
At least three people have been arrested for their participation in protests, Hoover officials said Monday.
When State Bureau of Investigation agents complete their work, information, including body camera video of Bradford’s shooting, will be turned over to the district attorney’s office, ALEA spokeswoman Robyn Bradley Bryan said Monday.
Bradford, 21, was shot by an on-duty officer responding to a shooting call Thanksgiving night at Riverchase Galleria mall in Hoover. Bradford was armed and had a gun permit, the Associated Press has reported. His family has said he was shot three times from behind.
Erron Brown has been arrested in connection with the initial shooting. Hoover police first reported that Bradford was the gunman who shot and wounded two people, but they recanted that claim within hours.
Police in Hoover said they can’t release video or other evidence because the case is being investigating by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. State officials have refused to release any information, saying that to do so could harm the continuing probe, the AP previously reported.
Alabama House Minority Leader Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, said his colleagues have been urged by constituents to speak out about the shooting.
“Right now, lawmakers are just trying to figure out how to respond, besides urging ALEA and the local police to get the tape released,” Daniels said Monday.
Daniels said he sent the head of ALEA late last month a letter urging that the video and as much information as possible about the shooting be released to the public “to bring clarity to the situation.”
“Right now, everyone is speculating on what happened,” he said. “We don’t know.”
The situation was worsened by the initial statements that Bradford was the shooter, Daniels said.
AL.com reported that Benjamin Crump Jr., who represents Bradford’s family, confirmed on Friday that investigators allowed him and other lawyers to view a brief portion of video of the shooting. He said it was “consistent” with a pathologist’s report that said Bradford was shot three times from behind.
80 Officer-Involved Shootings Since 2015
According to a database compiled by The Washington Post, there have been 937 fatal shootings by police nationwide this year. Thirteen were in Alabama.
The Post’s database goes back to 2015 and lists a total of 80 fatal shootings by Alabama law enforcement. Most of the dead were men; at least 51 of them were white, according to the Post.
Thirteen deaths this year equals 2.68 shootings per 1 million people, less than neighboring states.
Oklahoma this year has had 32 fatal police shootings, or 8.25 per 1 million people, the highest rate in the nation.
Bradford and at least eight others killed this year were armed, according to the database.
The number of shootings couldn’t be verified Monday by state law enforcement.
“SBI is not mandated to investigate officer-involved shootings,” Bradley Bryan said. “They are conducted at the request of district attorneys, chiefs of police, sheriffs or other city/county officials.”
Information about how many investigations SBI currently is conducting or recently completed was not available Monday.
Daniels, the lawmaker, said he was surprised by the number of officer-involved shootings in the state.
“I think that should be available upon request, it should be recorded somewhere that we can find it easily,” he said.
He said there should also be better tracking of police agencies that have significant numbers of unsolved violent crimes.
“For me, it’s about making sure it’s being investigated properly,” Daniels said. “These families are wondering what happened to their loved ones, whether it’s a police-involved shooting or not.”
Crump, the attorney for Bradford’s family, said witnesses claimed Bradford was trying to wave people away from the area of the initial shooting, the AP reported.
In a written statement Monday, the City of Hoover said it remains committed to cooperating with state law enforcement.
It said it supports individuals’ right to peacefully assemble.
“However, some of these protests have taken an unsafe turn and violent or otherwise dangerous actions that have the potential to threaten or injure our residents and visitors will not be allowed,” the statement said. “We continue to support the community’s right to safely protest, while at the same time maintaining the safety of our entire community. Individuals violating the law will be prosecuted.”
Three people have been arrested. Two are accused of having been involved in a protest that shut down Interstate 459, another was arrested for a separate incident on U.S. Highway 31 last week.
“We have consistently stated that we will not allow roads and highways to be blocked by protesters because it is hazardous and jeopardizes the safety of all citizens and visitors to Hoover,” the statement said.