Family demands surveillance footage after police killed Black man mistaken for suspect (updated)

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The family of a Black man killed by police because he was wrongly believed to be a shooting suspect is demanding that officials publicly release video of the incident, BuzzFeed News reports.

On Thanksgiving Day, police responded to reports of a shooting at Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama. After a police officer shot and killed Emantic “EJ” Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 21, the Hoover Police Department identified Bradford as the shooter. Police later retracted that statement and said it was “unlikely” that Bradford fired the gun he was holding when he was shot.

“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,” police said Monday before clarifying that “brandished” meant Bradford held the gun in his hand.

Bradford’s uncle, Anthony Thomas, said Sunday that the police “really, really dropped this ball.”

“They need to release all the videos, body cam footage, everything. All videos. Mall footage, everything,” Thomas said during a press conference. “They literally assassinated my nephew on Thanksgiving night. As far as I’m concerned he was assassinated.”

Bradford’s death struck a chord on social media, with many pointing out that he fit the pro-gun narrative of a “good guy with a gun”—except that he was Black. (Bradford has been widely identified as a U.S. Army soldier, but an Army spokesperson told CNN that Bradford did not complete training and never officially served.)

Bradford’s mother, April Pipkins, said on Good Morning America Monday that “we will definitely get justice for our child.” As of Monday afternoon, the shooting suspect was still at large.

Update 3:53pm CT, Dec. 4An autopsy commissioned by his family revealed that Emantic “EJ” Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was shot three times from behind, USA Today reports. The family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, said in a statement that the autopsy backs up multiple witness reports that Bradford was trying to help others escape gunfire when he was shot.

“The findings are devastating and heartbreaking to EJ’s family, compounding the shattering impact of this unnecessary and unwarranted killing,” Crump said.

On Thursday, federal law enforcement arrested Erron Martez Dequan, 20, on suspicion that he opened fire at the mall. He was charged with attempted murder.

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H/T BuzzFeed News

Kris Seavers

Kris Seavers

Kris Seavers is the Evening Editor for the Daily Dot, where she covers breaking news, politics, and LGBTQ issues. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.