Minutes after the police department whose officer allegedly killed Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr. in a Thanksgiving mall shooting, the Bradford family held a press conference disclosing the results of a medical examination that revealed a reality that might have been worse than the initial rumors and suppositions surrounding Bradford’s death.
After Hoover, Alabama’s lone black councilman, Derrick Murphy, requested that the HPD and the city of Hoover release any video of the incident, on Monday morning, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis announced that the city would adhere to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) wishes to not release any video.
According to WBRC, Derzis said, in a statement:
On Saturday, December 1, 2018, Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement Hal Taylor communicated in writing to Mayor Brocato and myself his agency’s stance on the premature release of any critical information in regards to their investigation. Secretary Taylor reiterated the importance of maintaining the integrity of their investigation. He has specifically asked that we do not release any potential evidence as it may not only jeopardize the integrity of the case, but also complicate or delay their efforts. He was very specific in his request, and a copy of his letter is included with this statement. While we maintain our commitment to be fully transparent during this process, we must respect the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s request for full cooperation and continue to have faith in the judicial process. We want the whole truth, unimpeded and not delayed.”
Less than an hour later, Bradford’s family and attorneys held a press conference releasing the results of an independent preliminary medical examination of Bradford’s body conducted by Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr., MD. at the request of the family.
“All we really want is one set of rules,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson, who opened the press conference at The Rock Church in Birmingham, Ala. with a prayer, adding: “We want the people of Hoover to know, all we want is justice... why cover up the tapes?”
According to the report, Mitchell met with Jefferson County’s chief medical examiner to review all of the forensic evidence and medical reports, including, x-rays photographs of the body at the scene, autopsy photographs and the body itself. The pathologist determined that the 21-year-old was shot from the back, moving away from the police officer who shot him.
While the report did not establish an order of the gunshot wounds, the report noted three gunshot wounds which were all “kill shots.” One bullet entered the right rear of Bradford’s head, traveled through the brain and exited out of the other side, according to the preliminary examination. Another entered the base of his neck from the rear and a third entered his rear right torso, just above the hip. These two remained lodged inside Bradford.
“All three of the gunshot wounds came from the back, which would suggest that EJ was moving away at the time the police fired,” explained the family attorney Benjamin Crump. “This is not to suggest that he was running from the police. Witnesses have verified that everybody was running from the gunshots.”
Numerous witnesses had concluded that Bradford was shot in the face, including the victim’s mother and Crump, who expressed that supposition to The Root in an interview last week. However, the medical examiner determined that the injuries to Bradford were a result of him falling forward on his face with dead weight after he was shot.
The independent examiner ruled the cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of death as homicide.
“It is clear... EJ Bradford was shot three times from the back, while he was moving away from the police,” Crump stated, adding:
“This family was requesting equal justice for E.J. Now they are demanding equal justice for E.J. based on forensic science that is not debatable. We believe based on this forensic evidence that this officer should be charged with a crime.”
Because of the graphic nature of the report, E.J. Bradford’s mother and stepmother did not attend the press conference. But Bradford’s father, who worked with Jefferson County’s law enforcement as a correctional officer, spoke at length about his feelings on the death of his son.
“E.J.’s mother, my wife, will never have a conversation with E.J. again,” said Emantic Bradford Sr. “But as you see from the evidence, my son was not posing a threat.”
“If you walked up from behind on my son, you should have given a... verbal command to drop the weapon,” added the victim’s father. “That’s not proper police training.”
You can’t explain that to me. That’s not training, that’s cowardice. You’re a coward. I’m telling you here on national TV, you’re a coward ... You murdered my son...What you have done is destroy my family. You should not get away with this. You will not get away with this...
Crump added that ALEA’s said their decision not to release any video was based on the fact that there are potential witnesses who they have not interviewed.
“We met with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency as well as the district attorneys,” explained Crump. “They strongly encouraged us to ask, to beg, to plead to any witnesses who were out that mall to come forward and give their accounts.”
Local residents outraged by the shooting have vowed to target Hoover with protests until the city releases any footage of the incident or charges the officer with Bradford’s death. A group demonstrated at a local movie theater on Sunday, forcing the theater to stop selling tickets for the evening.