The parents of a 21-year-old Alabama man who was fatally shot by police at a mall on Thanksgiving evening is demanding an apology after police acknowledged he was not the person who fired a weapon and injured two people.
Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford was killed Thursday evening at the Riverchase Galleria in Alabama after a fight between multiple people erupted outside a Footaction store. He was allegedly shot by one of two officers who mistook him for the shooter of an 18-year-old male and a 12-year-old female bystander.
At first, police said Bradford was brandishing a gun but later said he was not the shooter. On Monday, Hoover Police Department said the shooter, who has not been identified, is still at large.
“It hurts me to the core,” Bradford’s father, Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Sr., said at a news conference on Sunday, according to ABC News. “My son is gone and I can’t get him back. But you vilified my son like he was a straight criminal on Facebook and National TV. You need to clean up and apologize. I want an apology, his mother needs one, his grandmother definitely needs one.”
Bradford’s family is asking the police to release all body camera video and surveillance footage of the deadly incident.
“Emantic would be the one trying to get people out of harm’s way. That’s the type of person he was,” Bradford Jr.’s mother, April Pipkins, told CBS.
The family’s civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump says the police made several errors the night of the shooting, which included not shouting out a warning before firing and not providing medical assistance after Bradford was shot.
“He saw a black man with a gun and he made his determination that he must be a criminal,” Crump told reporters Sunday, according to CNN. “They concluded their investigation while EJ was (lying) on the mall floor, bleeding out, dying. … There’s a murderer on the loose largely because police rushed to judgment.”
Bradford’s father, who is a police officer, said his son would have obeyed all police commands.
“My son always respected the police and if you would have given a command when you came around that corner, say freeze, drop your weapon, he would have complied with your order,” he told CBS.
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In a statement released on Monday, the Hoover Police Department said that Bradford “brandished a gun during the seconds following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene.’
The police department said they immediately turned over body camera video and other video to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department as part of the investigation. The department also said the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency would be leading the investigation.
“We want everyone who lives in, works in, works for, or visits Hoover to know that we are a city that puts safety and respect in the highest regard for all citizens,” the release states. “We will be transparent throughout the course of this investigation.”
The department also extended their “deepest sympathy” to the “families of those affected by the traumatic events surrounding the officer-involved shooting last Thursday evening,” the release states.”We extend sympathy to the family of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., of Hueytown, who was shot and killed during Hoover Police efforts to secure the scene in the seconds following the original altercation and shooting.”
The day after the shooting, Hoover Police Department Captain Gregg Rector wrote in a statement that some of the “preliminary information” surrounding the case had likely not been accurate.
“Over the past 20 hours, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene technicians have interviewed numerous individuals and examined several evidentiary items. New evidence now suggests that while Mr. Bradford may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old,” Rector wrote.
“Investigators now believe that more than two individuals were involved in the initial altercation. This information indicates that there is at least one gunman still at-large, who could be responsible for the shooting of the 18-year-old male and 12-year-old female,” Rector continued. “We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence suggests that it was not.”
In a press release issued on Friday morning, the police previously confirmed that the officer involved in the shooting “has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation,” as is standard in such cases.
In the initial statement, police wrote that a fight broke out at the shopping center at 9:52 p.m., after which “one of the males produced a handgun and shot the other male twice in the torso.” After hearing gunfire, two uniformed Hoover police officers approached the area, and after allegedly seeing Bradford “brandishing a pistol,” one of the officers shot him. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
The 18-year-old female who was shot was taken to an area hospital in serious condition. The teenager, described by police as an “innocent bystander,” was hospitalized in stable condition.
After gunshots first broke out, witnesses told NBC News that hundreds of shoppers fled the area.
On Saturday, protestors gathered at the Riverchase Galleria to demand justice for Bradford, reported WVTM.
The group chanted “no justice, no peace” and “no racist police.”