The family of Emantic “EJ” Bradford, Jr., a young black man killed by a Hoover police officer a year ago, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Friday over his death. Attorneys for the family allege the officer did not follow proper procedure around the incident.
Shots rang out at the Riverchase Galleria mall on Thanksgiving night last year and within seconds a responding police officer shot and killed the 21-year-old. Hoover Police initially said Bradford was the shooter, before admitting a day later they were wrong. Protests and marches roiled the community for weeks.
The lawsuit names the City of Hoover and the officer who shot Bradford, whom officials have not identified publicly. Attorneys say that the officer failed to issue a verbal warning before shooting, violating recommended policing procedures.
“They never gave EJ Bradford a chance,” said family lawyer Ben Crump. “Because the police shot first and asked questions later and violated policies and procedures, EJ Bradford is no longer with us today.”
At a press conference marking one year since the shooting, attorney Devon Jacob called Hoover’s policing policies “deplorable” and “below standard.”
“This is not just about one person being shot in the Galleria. This is about everybody’s right to lawfully possess a handgun,” Jacob said. Bradford was holding a handgun when he was shot. The family says Bradford was trying to help others when the initial shooting occurred.
Those at the press conference called on Hoover to release the name of the officer and all video related to the case. Another lawsuit has been filed seeking that information. The latest lawsuit seeks compensatory damages among other relief.
“This lawsuit is to bring change so that no other mother or father has to go through this,” Bradford’s mother, April Pipkins, said. “We’re going to fight every step of the way. We will not back down.”
A statement from Hoover City Attorney Phillip Corley says officials will vigorously defend against the lawsuit. It points to reviews by the Alabama Attorney General and the U.S. Justice Department that found no criminal wrongdoing by the officer.
“The many allegations made against the City of Hoover in the days and weeks following the incident are false,” Corley said. “After all evidence is presented, no wrongdoing by the City or any of our officers will be shown.”