A private autopsy of Emantic “EJ” Bradford, Jr., showed that Alabama police shot the 21-year-old Army veteran three times from behind, one of the lawyers representing his family announced Monday. The revelation prompted Bradford’s family to renew demands for charges against the officer, whose identity has been kept secret since the shooting on Thanksgiving night.
“My son was murdered by this officer,” Emantic Bradford, Sr., said in no uncertain terms during a press conference in Birmingham. “That ain’t training. That’s cowardice.”
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Bradford was killed in the chaotic aftermath of a mall shooting in the town of Hoover when an officer reportedly fired on sight, fatally striking him. Authorities immediately announced Bradford was the mall shooter before admitting the avoidable error.
The autopsy showed that Bradford was all but executed: He was shot once in the head and once in the neck — both from behind — and once in the back.
“There is a laceration of the right side of the face at the eyebrow consistent with falling face forward on the right side of the head. The cause of death is gunshot wound of the head. The manner of death is homicide,” Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing Bradford’s family, said.
At the time when he was killed, Bradford was reportedly brandishing a gun that he was licensed to carry and was helping others to escape the shooting. It turned out that Bradford’s gun was not fired. The arrest of the actual suspect came Thursday, one week after Bradford was killed.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson issued a call for justice, including identifying the police officer and releasing any bodycam video footage, during a eulogy at Bradford’s funeral Saturday.
“We will have the tape made public. We want transparency, not coverup. Tell the whole story, tell it now. We want justice now. We want fairness now,” the civil rights leader said.
However, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis reiterated on Monday before Crump’s press conference that city officials will not release video footage of the shooting or identify the officer involved because the case was turned over to state investigators who will make decisions about releasing information.
The chief forensic pathologist for the Washington, D.C., area, Dr. Roger Mitchell, conducted the private autopsy. He met with Chief Medical Examiner of Jefferson County Dr. Gregory Davis and reviewed all autopsy photographs and directly observed the body.
“This officer should be charged with a crime,” Crump said, agreeing with his clients.
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