City leaders in the Alabama town where a cop shot Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. on Thanksgiving night seemed to care more about guarding against a lawsuit than seeking justice in the killing of an innocent Black man who many were calling a hero.
Members of the Hoover City Council spoke privately about the “legal ramifications” of the police-involved shooting on Tuesday after a quick two-minute public hearing, WVTM-TV reported.
Their unanimous decision to meet behind closed doors came just one day after Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato vowed to share information with the public about the fatal shooting.
“We will be transparent throughout the course of this investigation,” Brocato promised in a statement to the media, adding a plea “for patience” in the ongoing investigation.
However, city officials promptly turned over the investigation to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), which will determine when — or if — the public will see video evidence from the shooting, as well as whether to identify the officers involved.
We’ve seen this talk about transparency before. In one recent case, the Texas Rangers conveniently took over the Dallas Police Department’s investigation of the white cop who shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed Black man, in his own apartment in September. In that instance, the Rangers reportedly postponed pursuing a warrant against former Officer Amber Guyger to follow up on information she told them — a courtesy that most suspects never receive after a police chief called for an arrest. Her identity was withheld as she roamed free for days before she was allowed to quickly surrender to authorities before being released.
An officer shot Bradford while responding to a mall shooting, gunning down the Black man on sight based instinctive and implicit racial bias. Police announced immediately after the killing that Bradford was the mall shooter before admitting its avoidable error when it was later found out that Bradford’s gun had not been fired, prompting police to change its story. Some witnesses have said the 21-year-old veteran was helping others escape the shooting.
Bradford’s family has demanded the release of mall video, witness videos and body camera footage of Bradford’s death.
However, the mayor’s idea of transparency doesn’t include the immediate release of videos.
Also troubling, investigators said the actual shooter escaped. But they have been silent about a possible identity or the shooter’s whereabouts.
Meanwhile, the family’s attorney Ben Crump announced that he planned to join the Alabama NAACP and the National Action Network for a town hall meeting to seek justice for Bradford. The meeting was scheduled for Tuesday night at the historic 16th Baptist Church in Birmingham where a Ku Klux Klan bombing killed four Black girls in 1963.
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