The police version went like this: police responding to a shooting at an Alabama mall encountered, shot, and killed Emantic Bradford Jr. Bradford had been a threat to those around him. Police described themselves as having responded promptly and appropriately to Bradford Jr. who, they assured everyone, had definitely been the threat:
Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rectors said the shooting happened at 9:52 p.m. “We received a call of shots fired outside of Foot Action. We already had multiple officers working at the mall for traffic control and police presence inside,’’ he said. Earlier information, he said, is that two adult males – one of them 18 years old – got into a physical altercation in the mall area. “At least one of those individuals exchanged gunfire with the other,’’ Rector said. “The 18-year-old was struck. He was taken UAB with at least one wound. We believe he is in serious condition.” After the initial gunfire, Rector said the person who shot the 18-year-old was fleeing the area when he was confronted by two Hoover police officers, who were in uniform. “One of our officers did engage that individual and shot him,’’ Rector said. “He was dead on the scene…The Hoover police officer actually was running to the scene, he heard gunshots, he was obviously very near the scene, he actually shot and killed the person who injured the other person,’’ Rector said. He said they do not know what started the initial fight. “We know they got into physical altercation. We know the deceased was armed with a handgun and we know he shot the person who was transported to UAB,’’ Rector said.
“The person who shot” and “he actually shot and killed the person who injured the other person” and “We know he shot the person who was transported to UAB” are all things Gregg Rector voluntarily said, with assurance and confidence, which is a hell of thing considering that neither was true.
So then the police version went like this: police responding to a shooting at an Alabama mall encountered, shot, and killed Emantic Bradford Jr. who, although he was not the shooter, had confused the officers because he had been armed, albeit legally.
— Hoover Police Dept (@HooverPD) November 26, 2018
“We can say with certainty Mr 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,” is a hell of a thing considering that the police had stated fewer than 48 hours earlier – with certainty – that Bradford Jr. had been the shooter that police were pursuing. But, no matter: Bradford Jr. was still responsible for his own death because, even though he definitely was not the thing that police had insisted just hours before that he definitely was, he had still “brandished a gun” which approaching officers perceived as a threat. There was no attempt to contextualize what “brandished a gun” meant in this case, although it is implicitly implied that he had done something threatening. Critics noticed that the Hoover Police Department was still trying to make Bradford Jr.’s death his fault, and because nobody had any reason to believe anything that the HPD was claiming, said so publicly.
So then the police version went like this: police responding to a shooting at an Alabama mall encountered, shot, and killed Emantic Bradford Jr. who, although he was not the shooter, had confused the officers because he had a gun in his hand.
— Hoover Police Dept (@HooverPD) November 26, 2018
Bradford Jr. started out as the HPD’s shooter, then turned into an innocent bystander who had “brandished a gun” after the shooting, then turned into an innocent bystander who had a gun in his hand. This was the HPD’s third attempt to get things right and, as in the aftermath of its second attempt, critics were understandably dubious. After all, the HPD had repeatedly aligned the perceived facts in its favor in an attempt to excuse its killing of an innocent man. Surely though this third attempt was an accurate telling of Bradford Jr.’s death, one that excluded no details, one that honestly accounted for everything that had happened at that moment?
On Monday, Bradford Jr.’s family released findings of a private autopsy it paid to have performed in the aftermath of the HPD’s storytelling. The autopsy revealed a curious detail that the HPD had repeatedly excluded from its ongoing attempts to explain the shooting: Bradford had been shot three times in the back.
The results of that review, as provided by Crump and Baraganier, show Bradford was shot three times: Once in the head, once in the neck, and once in the back. The bullets all entered the 21-year-old’s body from the back, the report showed. Mitchell also noted in the report that each of the three bullets entered the body at a slightly upward angle.
Further reporting has also suggested that not only was Bradford Jr. never issued the sort of verbal commands that would have given him the opportunity to survive his encounter with police but that he was directing other shoppers to safety when police encountered him. Neither of these claims has made it into the HPD’s write-up of events.
Curiously, the Hoover Police Department and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency both have the evidence available to them that would surely clear up the issue. Both groups are sitting on video of the shooting that would show exactly what had happened at that moment. But both are refusing to release the video, insisting that doing so would poison an ongoing investigation. This has earned understandable disbelief, most notably from Emantic Bradford Jr.’s father. Emantic Bradford Sr. and his lawyer, Benjamin Crump, have both accused the police of withholding the video as part of a coverup. Thus far, there is no reason to disbelieve the accusation.