Alabama Police Shot E.J. Bradford In The Back Like They Were In A Gangster Movie

Post-Racial America
Alabama Police Shot E.J. Bradford In The Back Like They Were In A Gangster Movie

More information was released about the police shooting of a black man at an Alabama mall in November. Emantic Bradford Jr. was shot three times from behind, according to a forensic examination his family commissioned. This is the type of expense you can expect to incur when you can't trust the cops. Most black people have separate savings accounts set aside for this purpose.

The examination results reveal that Bradford was shot in his back, the back of his head, and the back of his neck. Very few back-related areas were missed. You normally don't see cops on TV shooting people in the back because it's gross. This is the type of gangland-style slaying you see in mobster movies. Even then audiences will cry out, "No, Tommy, don't go into that room! You're not getting made!"

Bradford's family held a news conference Monday with their attorney Benjamin Crump and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Crump suggested that the officer who shot Bradford should be charged with a crime.

"There's nothing that justifies [the officer] shooting EJ as he's moving away from him. You're not a threat when you're running away," Crump continued. "If that was anybody else who shot somebody three times in the back, it would be justified that they be charged with murder."

Unfortunately, it's not that simple, because "anybody else" didn't kill Bradford. A police officer did, and there's a very thick blue line between "my bad" and "murder." The Birkenstock-wearing Supreme Court ruled in 1985's Tennessee vs. Garner that shooting fleeing suspects violates their constitutional rights, especially when done out of season. However, officers are allowed to use lethal force if they reasonably believe the suspect is an immediate threat to themselves and bystanders. Police in Hoover, Alabama, will likely argue that everything was topsy-turvy at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night. Shots were fired, a gunman was on the premises, and in all the confusion, the police shot the man who witnesses claim was "directing shoppers to safety." The police aren't psychic. How can they tell a good guy with a gun from a bad guy with a gun if the "good guy" is black? This wasn't covered in the training.

Bradford's family has responded to all this about as well as you'd expect when your loved one was shot multiple times in the back and publicly accused for a day or so of attempted murder. Emantic Bradford Sr. called the unnamed officer who shot his son a "coward" who "destroyed his family."

The police won't release video of the shooting because they've been advised it could "compromise" the investigation. This doesn't make a lot of sense. They've expressed a "commitment to be fully transparent," but it seems like they're just expressing the commitment rather than acting on it. I mean, anyone can just express a commitment. The appearance of a cover-up also isn't the best method of managing community outrage to the shooting. Around two dozen people demonstrated outside the AMC Patton Creek movie theater in Hoover Sunday night. Police officers prevented the protestors from going inside, probably because the movie playing wasn't any good.

Undeterred, activist Carlos Chaverst Jr. claimed that protesters would "go to schools and to police officer's homes." That's not a smart move. It's a good way to go from "living protestor" to "dead terrorist."

"You are aiding and abetting in a terrorist act," Chaverst said to the officers. "We're going to come (to) every single place we need to until the terrorist on this police department is identified."

That just ensures the authorities won't identify the officer. No one wants him and his family harassed. Sensible people just want justice for Bradford. It's not everything, but at least the actual guilty party from the Thanksgiving shooting will face charges. Erron Martez Dequan Brown was apprehended in Georgia late last week and returned to Alabama yesterday. He shares responsibility for Bradford's unfortunate death, but I fear he'll legally assume that responsibility alone.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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