Black Army Vet Wrongly Shot By Alabama Police Because Oh Who The Hell Knows Why Anymore?
The Second Amendment is lethal for black people. I frequently make this declaration because the police are frequently killing black men who exercise their supposed constitutional right to bear arms. A couple weeks ago, Illinois police shot and killed armed security guard Jemel Roberson on the grounds that he was armed while securing someone. Now Alabama police have added to the senseless body count.
On Thanksgiving night (that's last Thursday if you don't know how the holiday works), there was a shooting at Riverchase Galleria, a very fancy name for a very large mall in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover. During the commotion and gunfire, an officer working security fatally shot 21-year-old Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr., and the police immediately set out to protect the cop and serve Bradford with posthumous slander.
Hoover police originally "suggested" that Bradford had gotten into a fight with an 18-year-old and shot him multiple times. The victim was hospitalized, along with a 12-year-old girl who was caught in the crossfire. Later the next day, after completing their Black Friday shopping, the police "retracted" the statement, admitting they didn't know who the hell had shot the victim but it probably wasn't Bradford. Sleep well, Birmingham, the actual shooter is still at large! By the way, this is still a live headline on CNN.com:
The rush to release a narrative that turned out false was perhaps motivated by the rush to label the officer involved a hero. Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector said at the time, "We were fortunate that that Hoover officer was there where he needed to be, and we believe at this point that maybe he prevented further injuries." Neither of these assertions is true.
This looks bad and the only way the police know how to correct it, I guess, is to reinforce the idea that Bradford is responsible for his own death. Bradford was an Army veteran with a permit to carry a weapon. Hoover police now claim he shouldn't have gone and done that.
"We can say with certainty Mr. Bradford brandished a gun during the seconds following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene," the statement from the city of Hoover and its police department says.
"Brandished" is a term the police have since backed away from because it's absurd. It literally means to "shake or wave," and unless Bradford was trying to fence with the gun, he probably wasn't "brandishing" it. He most likely was just holding the gun, which until the technology improves is the only way to operate them. Seriously, don't sell them to us if we can't hold them. Now, I don't support the "good guy with a gun" theory that the NRA promotes to sell lethal weapons to wannabe cowboys. I agree with the Doctor: Guns make whatever situation you're in worse. But this isn't Hippie Town. This is Alabama, where 15 percent of the population has a concealed carry permit. However, guns aren't allowed in the Galleria mall -- and yet there's no actual gun-related charge for bringing a gun into a private business. You can be asked to leave, and if you refuse, they can charge you with a misdemeanor trespassing like you're trying to use the bathroom at a Philly Starbucks, but that's about it. I imagine, though, that this'll prove sufficient for the officer to skate on killing Bradford. Garbage person Dana Loesch recently tried to justify the police shooting Roberson -- the Illinois security guard -- because he had his knee on the suspect's back.
Back in Alabama, the police are really sorry Bradford's dead. They even said so in this statement:
"We extend sympathy to the family of Emantic J. Bradford of Hueytown, who was shot and killed during Hoover Police efforts to secure the scene in the seconds following the original altercation and shooting. The loss of human life is a tragedy under any circumstances."
What they didn't actually do, though, is speak to Bradford's family directly. This is understandable because the police are generally so afraid of black people they probably were concerned the family would shoot them over the phone. Besides, social media gave the family a heads-up that Bradford was never coming home, so who needs to hear from the police or the mayor when you've got Twitter?
The family, for good reason, has little trust in the police department so they've hired civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. Crump is often derided for traveling the country representing people who've lost a family member to police violence. Maybe his critics could advocate for reducing police violence if they have a problem with how the brother makes a living.
Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has nothing to say about Bradford's death. Strange, because I believe the police shooting veterans in malls is more offensive to their service than NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).