Family of Black Man Killed by Officer Wants Answers

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Source: Gigi Douban, WBHM

Ben Crump stands with Emantic Bradford Jr.'s family for a press conference.

During a press conference Sunday, the family of Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. called on the Hoover Police Department to release the mall video, witness videos and body camera footage of Bradford’s death. They were accompanied by their civil rights attorney, Ben Crump.

Crump is most notably known for representing other black men who have died at the hands of police and others, including Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Crump says several witnesses have come forward since the Thanksgiving night shooting to say the police officer who killed Bradford at the mall didn’t give any verbal commands to Bradford before shooting him in the face.

The family says it wants the Hoover Police Department to “say no more, just show the video.”

Bradford died Thanksgiving night after he was shot by a police officer working security at the Riverchase Galleria Mall in Hoover. Initially, officials said Bradford was engaged in a fight with an 18-year-old when he pulled out a gun and shot the teen. A 12-year-old bystander also was wounded that night. Police and city officials that night hailed the quick response as “heroic.”

But officials later retracted the statement saying it was “highly unlikely” that Bradford fired the shots that injured two people. Officials now say the shooter could still be at large. Crump says they offered Bradford no medical assistance after the shooting. Family members were tearful at the press conference at Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park. Several clutched photos of Bradford. At one point, Bradford’s grandmother, Althea Pipkin, collapsed and was escorted off as she sobbed over her grandson’s killing.

Crump and the family say it’s just another instance of a black man dying at the hands of police.

Crump says the family’s communication with the police department has been minimal. He says as of Sunday, the family still had not been contacted by Hoover police about Bradford’s death. Instead, he says the Bradford family found out about his death through social media.

EJ Bradford Sr., who is a retired Birmingham jail employee, says he considers others in the law enforcement community as family. But he is angered by Hoover’s quick conclusion to label his son the killer. Bradford Sr. says he called Hoover police at 12:30 a.m. Friday morning, but they said they would call him back. He says they did not call him before they gave a media briefing and that he has yet to receive a call.

“My son is gone. I can’t get him back … you vilified my son,” Bradford Sr. said Sunday.

April Pipkins, Bradford’s mother, says Thanksgiving will never be the same again. Other family members joined Pipkins at the press conference. One of them was Clemon Brown, who is Bradford’s younger brother. Brown says he blames the media for going with early police accounts.

“EJ was not that kind of guy at all,” Brown says. “He was very respectful to his mother [and] his father.”

The family says Bradford had been taking care of his father, who is battling cancer. Crump says the family is unsure as to whether they can have an open casket funeral because the police officer shot Bradford in the face. Law enforcement has not yet released any details on the fatal shooting. Crump says in the meantime, they are going to explore every possible legal avenue available on the state and federal level.

“What the family wants most is justice,” Crump says.

The officer who shot Bradford has since been placed on administrative leave. His name has not been released. Neither the State Bureau of Investigations, which is handling the investigation, nor Hoover police officials have responded to requests for comment.

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