Hoover, AL — Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., a 21-year old Black man from Alabama, was fatally shot by police who mistook him as the gunman in a shooting incident at a mall where he was actually trying to help pacify the commotion. His family, along with a group of several protesters, were outraged with the brutal police treatment and they are shouting for justice.On Thanksgiving Day, Bradford Jr. was killed by police at Riverchase Galleria Mall in Hoover, Alabama following a fight between different people outside a Footaction store. Police believed Bradford Jr. may have been involved in the altercation wherein an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl was shot and he was seen “brandishing a handgun.”
However, in a statement on Saturday, Hoover Police Capt. Gregg Rector said, “We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate but new evidence indicates that it was not.”
Bradford Jr.’s family cannot believe the unexpected and vicious death of their beloved.
“I just want everybody to understand this: Thanksgiving will never be the same for me because that’s the last time I saw my son,” his mother, April Pipkins, said during Sunday’s news conference. “My son was a loving, very loving young man. He would give any of you the shirt off his back. And that’s true. He loved people, period. He was not a killer.”
His father, Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Sr., is demanding for the release of the police bodycam footage and surveillance video from the mall to show that his son was helplessly shot in the face by a police officer.
“It hurts me to the core. 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,” the senior Bradford said at a news conference on Sunday, referring to police and city officials. “You need to clean up and apologize. I want an apology, his mother needs one, his grandmother definitely needs one.”
Bradford Jr.’s uncle, Anthony Thomas, believes the police chief and the mayor of Hoover, who immediately praised the officer who shot Bradford for his “professional” action, should resign.
“Somebody has got to have accountability for this and I will never stop fighting until the day I die. I will get justice,” Thomas said.
Hours after the incident, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis, proudly said at a news conference, “From the time that shooting took place, they engaged and it was safe within seconds that it happened. You don’t see that too often. So very, very proud of that.”
Around the same time, Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato commended the officer’s actions and said, “He did so as a professional. He did so at the risk of his own life. But he stepped in to protect thousands, and I’m grateful for that.”
The mayor and the police chief have not taken back what they said yet and it’s making Pipkins angrier. She said the Hoover Police Department also did not contact them when the incident happened. Their family had only known about the details through the media.
“That is no way to learn of your child’s death,” Pipkins said. “How would you want to be treated? Nobody should have to go through this, to see their son on TV, on social media.”
Ben Crump, the lawyer representing Bradford’s family, demands the authorities to release the video to show that Bradford was indeed innocent and the police made a mistake. He said Bradford, at that time, was standing over the injured 18-year old victim of the shooting because he was trying to pacify the commotion, but the police shot him.
“The police calling him a killer, when they had the video there. They wanted to justify the killing and that’s why they were so quick to assassinate his character,” Crump said. “The video is unbiased, it is completely objective. It tells the whole story.”
Crump added that Bradford was carrying a handgun and he was licensed. His parents said he was honorably discharged from the Army due to an injury. Moreover, Alabama is an “open carry” state, so he is not required to carry a permit to openly carry a handgun, so long that is was holstered.
Meanwhile, the 18-year-old victim is still in serious condition in the hospital and the 12-year-old girl is now stable.
Protesters gathered at the mall on Saturday, most of them holding a red and black banner with a “Justice for EJ” sign. Another demonstration is planned on Monday afternoon outside Hoover City Jail.
Crump said Bradford’s family is looking to take legal action regarding the shooting. He said, “Equal justice, we plan to get it under the law, because of what they’ve had to endure.”
“You can’t bring back my child; you can’t clean it up,” Bradford Sr. told ABC News. He also wants the police officer who fatally shot his son to be punished, saying, “They need to be locked up.”
Watch the news coverage below: