Alabama AG: It's Totally Cool For Cops To Shoot Black Men In The Back
Alabama's attorney general ruled Tuesday that a Hoover police officer "did not commit a crime" when he fatally shot a black man he "mistook" for a gunman during a mall shooting last Thanksgiving. This probably shocks no one, which itself is a crime.
The police officer shot Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr., 21, in the back three times while Bradford was helping to evacuate shoppers. Someone should be held responsible for his extrajudicial summary execution, and after careful consideration of at least several minutes, the state has selected Bradford himself.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released a thick 26-page report of bullshit concluding that the officer, identified in the interests of full transparency as "Officer 1," was "justified and not criminal" for killing Bradford. "Officer 1" saw Bradford "running toward the initial shooter and victim with a firearm visibly in hand." There was no way Bradford could've been one of those "good guys with a gun" the NRA talks about. He was after all black.
The report says, "Officer 1's mistaken belief does not render his actions unreasonable."
"A reasonable person could have assumed that the only person with a gun who was running toward the victim of a shooting that occurred just three seconds earlier fired the shots," the report concludes.
Marshall released footage of the shooting yesterday. It is not pleasant. The police had resisted during so for months because they claimed it would "compromise" the investigation. The State Bureau of Investigation wants to assure us that the "investigation" involved witnesses and even evidence. This includes cell phone videos from shoppers, mall surveillance footage, body cam video, text messages, and even Facebook posts. They all helped Marshall reached the conclusion that, yes, Bradford was shot but it doesn't matter. All that mattered was "Officer 1's" fear and mistaken assumptions. Bradford, while wielding a licensed handgun, managed to avoid shooting random bystanders.
The mall surveillance footage had no audio, so it was unclear if "Officer 1" gave Bradford any verbal commands before shooting him in the back like a dog if you're the kind of asshole who shoots dogs in the back. Two eyewitnesses claim they heard some commands, but "Officer 1" reported that "he did not give any commands due to the imminent nature of the threat." That's how comfortable a cop is that the fix is in for him. He has witnesses willing to smooth things out for him, and he's, like, "Naw, I'm good. I didn't have time for that 'Law & Order' shit. Do I look like Jerry Orbach?"
The Alabama ACLU decried the attorney general's decision and made the radical claim that "police need to be held accountable when they shoot and kill innocent people." Damn hippies.
The attorney for "Officer 1" said that neither he nor his client will release any public statement about the shooting, not even an "oops, my bad." You'd like to think this bothers him, but that's probably a stretch. Bradford's family is left to mourn the senseless killing of a loved one like far too many black parents, siblings, and children. However, they don't plan to go out hunting for random cops to enact their vengeance like a common Liam Neeson. Their attorney, Benjamin Crump, says he'll file a civil suit against the city of Hoover. Considering that the police originally misidentified Bradford as the mall shooter for a full day before retracting their statement, they might have a solid case. It won't bring back Bradford nor will it keep "Officer 1" off the streets. He will continue to suck at law enforcement.
Tuesday was also what would've been Trayvon Martin's 24th birthday. Black people die senselessly and we're always told it was "justified." It happens so often, but we should never stop getting angry.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.