After Cop Cleared in Black Man's Shooting Death, Protests Head to Alabama AG's Office
By Mike Cason
Protesters and the family of Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr., demonstrated today outside Attorney General Steve Marshall's office to denounce Marshall's decision to clear the Hoover police officer who fatally shot Bradford at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night.
Several dozen protesters, some carrying signs and wearing "Justice for EJ" shirts, chanted Bradford's name and called for Marshall to come out of the state office building and answer their allegations that the decision not to send the case to a grand jury amounted to a cover-up.
Marshall did not appear. About a half-dozen speakers, including Bradford's father and mother, expressed outrage at Marshall's decision and said it perpetuated what they say is a pattern of police killing black men without justification.
The protest was spirited but appeared to be winding down without any confrontation between protesters and police standing by. That changed when most of the protesters moved to the rear side of the office building. Some attempted to enter the locked doors.
Protest leaders Frank Matthews and Carlos Chaverst had a tense exchange with police about an order to disperse. After a few minutes, protesters agreed to disperse while asserting that the police were misinformed about the law.
The Associated Press reported that two women were arrested on disorderly conduct charges after they returned. One of the women said they returned to get signs and other property that were left behind.
Marshall issued a report on Tuesday saying that an investigation determined that the Hoover police officer, who was not named, acted reasonably within his duties when he shot Bradford and should not be criminally charged.
The report says two officers on duty in the Galleria heard two gunshots about 75 feet away and moved toward the gunfire. The report says they encountered Bradford holding a "firearm in a ready position."
"Officer 1 identified E.J. Bradford as an immediate deadly threat to innocent civilians and thus shot," the report says.
Hoover police initially said Bradford, 21, was the shooter in an incident that injured an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl who was a bystander. Hoover police later said that was a mistake. Erron Brown, 20, is charged with attempted murder for shooting the 18-year-old, Brian Wilson. Brown said he shot Wilson in self-defense.
Protesters today said it was wrong for Marshall to take the case away from Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr because of potential conflicts of interest.
Bradford's father, Emantic Bradford Sr., said Marshall should have met with the Bradford family before releasing the report to the media, but did not.
"My son was a victim," Bradford said. "Whether the case was going the way you thought it was going to go, got some news good or bad, you should've told us something before you released it to the media."
The attorney general's office said today it would have no comment on the case beyond the 24-page investigative report released on Tuesday.
The rally in Montgomery followed one outside the Hoover City Hall on Tuesday night, when protesters burned two American flags.
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