What the DOJ Review Could Mean for Bradford Shooting Investigation

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Janae Pierre, WBHM

Protesters march to demand justice after a Hoover police officer fatally shot Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr. on Thanksgiving night.

The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the case of a Hoover police officer who shot and killed Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. on Thanksgiving.

The shooting happened at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover as the mall was full of shoppers. Police initially thought Bradford, 21, was the suspect in a shooting that left two people wounded. The next day, Hoover police and city officials said Bradford likely wasn’t the shooter.

The federal inquiry comes as Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall recently concluded the officer was justified in shooting Bradford that night. Marshall’s investigation is summed up in a 24-page report his office issued last Tuesday. The report will be part of that inquiry, according to Jay Town, U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s northern district.

”This matter has been, and continues to be, under review by various civil rights components within the Department of Justice since these events occurred,” Town said. “The recent release of a ten-week investigation  by the State of Alabama is now a part of that review by those components.” Town declined to comment further.

Joyce White Vance, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, says the DOJ review could provide an additional opportunity for all evidence to be reviewed in the case. There’s been mistrust on behalf of civil rights groups, protesters, and the Bradford family toward state and local officials. They’ve demanded more transparency and the release of all video tied to the shooting. Officials have continued to withhold the identity of the police officer who fatally shot Bradford.

“DOJ will likely look at the evidence in the case afresh and make a decision about whether or not the case needs to go to grand jury and be indicted,” Vance said. Marshall’s report clearing the officer of criminal wrongdoing means the case won’t go to a state grand jury, but the DOJ can send it to a federal grand jury.

“It is incredibly important in a situation like this to have a process that the public trusts, that the public believes both the police officer and the victim are being treated fairly,” Vance said.

But the DOJ review likely won’t include a probe into the Hoover Police Department’s history and addresses concerns about racial issues. Former U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions issued a memo on his last day making it more difficult for Justice Department officials to obtain court-enforced agreements to stop civil rights abuses by local police departments.

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