For the second time in a month, police responded to a shooting by killing the wrong man who just happened to be black, sparking protests and accusations of racial profiling.
This time, the blunder took place in an Alabama shopping mall Thursday night inside a shopping mall that had opened early for Black Friday.
Two Hoover police officers were already working security detail inside the Riverchase Galleria mall south of Birmingham when a man opened fire, shooting a 19-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl, wounding them.
Shoppers began running for the exits when police spotted a man named Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. running with a gun in his hand, so they shot and killed him.
They then announced to the media that they killed the suspect, so there was no need to worry.
But less than 24 hours later – after apparently reviewing security video – they announced they had shot the wrong man.
And that the real suspect remains at large.
It's quite a change of tone compared to what they were saying after they had killed him.
"From the time that shooting took place, they engaged and it was safe within seconds that it happened," Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis told local media. "You don't see that too often."
But they have not released any further information except for saying Bradford was somehow involved in the shooting, but not saying exactly how.
So for all we know, he could have been the highly lauded "good guy with a gun."
According to AL.com:
A 21-year-old man shot and killed by Hoover police at the Riverchase Galleria Thanksgiving night likely did not fire the rounds that wounded an 18-year-old and 12-year-old, police announced Friday night.
Earlier Friday, the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office identified the slain man as Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector while the department does not typically issue media updates during an internal investigation, there was information discussed with local media Friday night that merits update and clarification.
Preliminary information gathered Friday night, Rector said, indicated that two individuals were involved in a physical altercation that led to a 21-year-old male shooting an 18-year-old male multiple times. The 18-year-old victim was indeed shot and transported to UAB Hospital, where he remained on Friday.
The 21-year-old – now identified as Bradford - was fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun, was engaged, shot and killed by a uniformed Hoover police officer. “Over the past 20 hours, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators and crime scene technicians have interviewed numerous individuals and examined several critical evidentiary items,’’ Rector said. “New evidence now suggests that while Mr. Bradford may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim. “
Alabama is an open carry state, which makes it legal to openly carry a firearm in public as long as it is in a holster.
However, the mall forbids firearms even with a permit, so it is a gun-free zone.
But does that mean Bradford should have lost his life?
Earlier this month, police in Illinois responded to a shooting at a sports bar, only to kill a black security guard named Jemel Roberson who was detaining the actual suspect who had opened fire.
Midlothian police killed Roberson on November 11 but have yet to release the name of the cop who shot him. On Tuesday, a judge ruled that police have until December 17 to release the name.
Hoover police have also not released the name of the cop who killed Bradford.
Earlier today, a group of protesters marched through the mall but the media was told they were not allowed to enter the mall to report on the protest.
Initial reports stated that Bradford was on active duty in the army and was home for the holidays when he was shot. His Facebook page also includes photos of him dressed in an army uniform that includes his name.
But the Washington Post is reporting that he did not serve, so there are still many unanswered questions.
Bradford had photos of himself in Army uniform posted on Facebook, and he described himself as a combat engineer. A spokesman for the Army, however, told The Washington Post that he “never completed advanced individual training” and so did not serve.
But a photo posted on his Facebook page last year by an army recruiter suggests that Bradford has enlisted and was ready to serve.
The recruiter, Joshua Williams, reposted the same image this morning, remembering Bradford as passionate about making an impact in the army.
At some point since that photo was taken, Bradford changed his name on Facebook from "EJ Bradford" to "Li Glock".
And on the day he was killed, he posted a photo of himself on Facebook appearing to be holding a gun, only the photo was edited to hide the object in his hand with red marks.
But that is still not any justification for killing him.