The Alabama police officer who shot Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. in the back and killed him on Thanksgiving night at a shopping mall will face no charges, leaving some local residents to respond with outrage while others weren’t surprised at all.
Hours after the decision was announced Tuesday, protesters gathered at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover where the 21-year-old, legally armed military veteran was gunned down. Some of them burned American flags, but they all vowed to continue the fight for justice, Al.com reported.
Earlier that day, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he concluded the officer—who remains unidentified—did not break the law and will not be charged in the fatal shooting.
“After an extensive investigation and review, the Attorney General has determined Officer 1 did not commit a crime under Alabama law when he shot and killed E.J. Bradford and thus the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct preclude presentation of this case to a grand jury. The facts of this case demonstrate that Officer 1 reasonably exercised his official powers, duties, or functions when he shot” Bradford, the AG’s report said.
The 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 licensed gun had not been fired, prompting the department to change its story. Some witnesses said Bradford was helping others escape the shooting.
Bradford’s family and their lawyers met Tuesday morning with representatives from the Attorney General’s Office at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham. The family later blasted Marshall for not meeting with them.
At a press conference after the meeting, Bradford’s father, Emantic Bradford Sr. called the shooting a murder.
“My son was murdered. And you think I’m going to let it go?” he said. “That was a homicide… you killed my son. You are a coward. You’re a coward too, Steve Marshall.”
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 Jefferson County Coroner’s report had the same findings, according to information released in Marshall’s report.
“It was a cover-up in the first degree. This attorney general orchestrated taking this case from the first elected Black district attorney so he could cover up for this white police officer shooting a Black man in the back running away,” said Ben Crump, a high-profile civil rights attorney representing the family.
Hoover’s mayor had vowed transparency in the investigation but then said his hands were tied because the case was turned over to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Supporters of the family took to Twitter to voice their outrage and pain.