Alabama AG taking over case of Black man killed by police

January 2019

In this Nov. 27, file frame from video, April Pipkins holds a photograph of her deceased son, Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr.

By Brett Molina and Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

MONTGOMERY, Ala.—The investigation of the fatal shooting of a Black man by a police officer inside Alabama’s largest shopping mall is now in the hands of the state attorney general.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said at a Dec. 13 news conference that his office will oversee the case to prevent the appearance of any possible conflicts involving local officials over the fatal shooting of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford Jr., whose death on Thanksgiving night has led to nearly-daily protests.

The officer, whose name has not been released by authorities, mistook Mr. Bradford for the gunman in a shooting that happened moments earlier inside the Riverchase Galleria in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, officials have said.

The officer who shot Bradford was the charging officer in about 20 cases

involving local prosecutors in Jefferson County, where the man was killed, according to Mr. Marshall. Jefferson County’s newly-elected district attorney, Danny Carr, has “personal relationships” with some of the protesters calling for the officer to be prosecuted, Mr. Marshall said in a letter to Mr. Carr that was released by the attorney general’s office.

Mr. Marshall said that while he did not believe any conflict existed, having the attorney general’s office assume control of the case would prevent any problems.

In this Aug. 20 file photo, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall speaks at a round-table during an event to salute U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Marshall said Dec. 13, that his office is taking over the investigation into the police killing of a Black man inside the state’s largest shopping mall on Thanksgiving night. Photos: AP/Wide World Photos

Aside from the review of Bradford’s death, Mr. Marshall said his office would take over the attempted-murder case against the man ultimately arrested in the earlier shooting, which left another man wounded. The state also will investigate the wounding of a 12-year-old girl who was shot in the back, Mr. Marshall said. Authorities have described her as an innocent bystander.

Meanwhile, three people were arrested in continuing protests over the fatal police shooting. Two men were arrested Dec. 9 on disorderly conduct charges after a protest that briefly shut down an interstate highway. A woman was arrested Dec. 6 after someone was seen throwing Christmas ornaments into traffic in Hoover, where the shooting occurred.

News outlets reported the woman allegedly told authorities she was doing it as part of the protests seeking justice for Mr. Bradford Jr.

It was unclear whether any of the three who were arrested have attorneys to speak on their behalf.

In a statement, the city said it supported the right to protest peacefully but that blocking Interstate 459 presents “a serious public safety concern for everyone.”

“We have consistently stated that we will not allow roads and highways to be blocked by protesters because it is hazardous and jeopardizes the safety of all citizens and visitors to Hoover,” said the statement.

No one was hurt in the interstate protest, but authorities said two security guards suffered minor injuries during a demonstration at an upscale resort in Hoover, a city of about 85,000 people in suburban Birmingham.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has asked federal authorities to investigate Mr. Bradford’s death, citing questions including differing police accounts of what occurred.

The chief federal prosecutor in north Alabama, Jay Town, said officials are monitoring the situation. (AP)