BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The family of 21-year-old Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., the man shot to death by Hoover Police at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night, held a press conference Sunday afternoon, speaking out to demand justice in his death.
During the press conference at Kelly Ingram Park, they spoke out for the first time since Thursday night when Bradford Jr. was killed and initially named by police as the shooter who opened fire during an altercation inside the mall, injuring an 18 year old and a 12 year old.
Hoover Police one day later issued a statement explaining they no longer believed Bradford fired any shots, and said the shooter remained at large. Hoover PD allege in their Friday evening statement that Bradford Jr., was reportedly seen fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun. Monday, police clarified Bradford ” had a gun in his hand.” Police said in their Monday statement that “instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene.”
Hoover Police say Bradford Jr. was engaged, then shot and killed by a uniformed Hoover Police officer. The gunman who fired the shots injuring the 12 year old and 18 year old remains at large.
His mother, father, brother, uncle and cousin spoke at the press conference, along with nationally recognized civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, to demand video of the incident to be released and answers from officials.
“Thanksgiving will never be the same for me,” said his mother, April Pipkin.
His father, Emantic Bradford Sr. shared the same sentiment.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow.”
They say their son was wrongfully killed during the shooting at the Riverchase Galleria, and then in the following hours when Hoover’s Mayor and Hoover Police applauded the officer’s actions, they say their son’s character was smeared.
“Let there be no mistake about it. They [police] rushed to judgment. They concluded their investigation while EJ was laying on the mall floor, shot in the face, bleeding out dying,” said Ben Crump.
“Hoover done got on TV and blasted my son like he a killer and everything,” said Bradford Sr.
Bradford Sr. said his son did own a gun, and that he had a permit to concealed carry the weapon.
Both his mother and father spoke about their son’s character–explaining that he worked full time to help his mother financially and took care of his father. They spoke about his desire to serve his country in the military–Bradford Jr. enlisted, but did not complete Advanced Individual Training, a military spokesperson confirmed to CBS 42, and was discharged.
The family said they had not heard from Hoover Police regarding the shooting. Bradford Sr. says he tried to call police multiple times that night and could not get any information.
They say they learned of Bradford Jr.’s death through social media.
“That is no way that any parent should have to find out the death of their child. No parent should ever have to go through this,” said Pipkins.
Bradford Jr.’s cousin spoke, describing her horror and pain upon seeing images of Emantic dead on the floor of the Riverchase Galleria surrounded by a pool of blood on social media.
The family is demanding transparency throughout the investigation.
“Don’t say no more. Show the video. This family does not trust your words,” said Crump.
The family says they want all security footage, police body camera footage and other video given to police to be released to the public.
They are also asking for apologies from Hoover Police and Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato.
Bradford Sr. stressed: “You need to apologize, and I want apologies. I need one, his mother needs one, his grandmother definitely needs one, but at the end of the day I’m hurt and I’m totally distraught about the whole situation.”
The family explained they are trying to plan his funeral services and aren’t sure yet about arrangements, as they aren’t sure if they can have an open casket ceremony to say good bye, as he was shot in the head. They stressed he was known to be a good kid growing up, and a good son.
Crump says he will pursue all legal avenues possible to bring justice to the family.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) State Bureau of Investigations has taken over the case. Read their statement here. Initially, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was investigating.
After the family’s press conference, the City of Hoover and Hoover PD pledged to be as transparent as possible, and would issue statements at least once a week by 10:30 a.m. every Monday or when there is a major development.
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) released the following statement:
“Today I join with the community in calling for justice for E.J. and the other victims. The senseless tragedy that led to the death of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr. must be thoroughly investigated and all the facts brought into the light,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “My heartfelt prayers are with E.J.’s family and all those injured and impacted by this tragic event. As a community, we must insist that ALEA, the Hoover Police Department and all law enforcement involved, conduct this investigation with the utmost transparency to the public. Tragedies like this one erode the public trust. Through accountability and transparency, it is my hope we can get to the truth of the events that transpired that evening and get justice for the victims.”
Hoover City Councilor Derrick Murphy released the following statement:
“My family and I are praying for the many families that were impacted by the recent tragic event. I am also heartbroken for the family of young man who lost his life. I know that many are puzzled, saddened, and in some cases have become fearful by what has transpired. I am confident that all law enforcement agencies involved will remain diligent and transparent throughout the investigation.
I hope that you will join my family and I in prayer as we all patiently await the details.”
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato spoke Monday evening: