Hoover, Alabama officials rejected the allegation that there’s a policing problem in the city, all but ignoring one of the complaints from demonstrators who are protesting the police killing of Emantic “EJ” Bradford, Jr. on Thanksgiving night in a shopping mall.
On Monday, City Administrator Allan Rice cast doubt on allegations that the Hoover Police Department engages in racial profiling, the Hoover Sun reported.
“We do not have a documented pattern of complaints based on racial disparity and how we police the city. It just doesn’t exist,” he stated, adding that demonstrators are emotional and “piling on with the current circumstances” surrounding the police shooting.
Rice’s comments stem from a private meeting he and Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato had on Monday with Birmingham Justice League leader Iva Williams III and an intermediary to discuss escalating tensions between protesters and the police. Williams called for a temporary suspension of demonstrations on Tuesday after having a productive dialogue.
Despite the denial of policing problems, the city administrator said he was ready to listen to other views.
“We don’t see it, but maybe we need an outside set of eyes to come in and work through and compare our statistics to other like communities,” he added.
An officer shot Bradford while responding to a mall shooting, gunning down the Black man on sight based on implicit racial bias. Police announced immediately after the killing that Bradford was the mall shooter—before admitting its avoidable error when it was later discovered that Bradford’s gun had not been fired, prompting the department to change its story. Some witnesses said the 21-year-old was helping others escape the shooting.
A private 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.
The mayor vowed transparency in the investigation, but then said his hands were tied because the case was turned over to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which will determine when — or if — the public will see video evidence from the shooting, as well as whether to identify the officers involved.
Police officers have been working 12-hour shifts in response to demonstrations that have focused on the mall where Bradford was killed. Some protesters are also boycotting Hoover businesses to address economic and racial disparities in the city.
Williams said the boycott is still on and protesters will wait to see if there’s more progress in the talks.
City officials said they are addressing the economic concerns of the protesters. And they are organizing a multi-racial roundtable to formulate a plan for moving forward in race relations.