Alabama Officer Cleared In Fatal Shooting

Feb 6, 2019
Originally published on February 6, 2019 11:26 am
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Alabama's attorney general has declared that a Birmingham police officer who fatally shot a man in a mall on Thanksgiving Day was justified. But questions remain, even though officials say the investigation is complete. Sherrel Wheeler Stewart of member station WBHM has more.

SHERREL WHEELER STEWART, BYLINE: A 24-page report from Attorney General Steve Marshall makes the case for shooting Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr. in the Galleria. Police say officers responded to reports that someone had been shot, and they acted the way they were trained to when they saw Bradford running toward the victim with a gun. Here's the attorney general.

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STEVE MARSHALL: Mr. Bradford turned, aggressive stance, headed the direction of people that were unarmed. And the officer made the decision that taking action with his firearm was what was going to ensure the safety of those people there.

WHEELER STEWART: Jenny Carroll is a law professor at the University of Alabama. She's followed the case and read the attorney general's report.

JENNY CARROLL: What exactly was going on here such that the decision was made to kind of fire first, ask questions later? And it may be that after a conversation, you know, with the officers, people in the community would say, we agree this was a reasonable action.

WHEELER STEWART: But she says because the attorney general determined the officer's actions were reasonable, that decision blocks any other potential judicial proceedings. Bradford's family members say he was trying to protect himself and his friend from a shooter. His friend survived after being shot by another man, now charged with attempted murder.

Protesters demonstrated outside of the Hoover City Hall Tuesday evening over the decision to clear the officer. Today, demonstrators plan to travel to Montgomery, the state capital, to protest at the attorney general's office. For NPR News, I'm Sherrel Wheeler Stewart in Birmingham.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In the introduction to this report, we mistakenly say the police officer was from Birmingham, Ala. In fact, he is with the Hoover, Ala., police.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.