Mall Shooting Story Gets Way Bigger

'Outraged' parents of shooting victim demand justice
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2018 12:16 PM CST
'Outraged' Parents of Mall Victim: We Want Justice
Protestors carry a sign reading “Justice for E.J.” during a protest at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.   (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)

(Newser) – The parents of a man killed by Alabama police Friday are calling for justice after authorities apparently shot the wrong guy, ABC News reports. "I'm outraged as a mother because I carried him for nine months," says April Pipkins, mother of police-shooting victim Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 21. "As a mother, no one understands how I feel. It's like someone ripped my heart out." Police initially said they had shot the gunman who wounded an 18-year-old male and 12-year-old girl at Riverchase Galleria Mall in Hoover, a Birmingham suburb, but later admitted Bradford was not the shooter. A new family lawyer says Bradford was a Good Samaritan trying to calm the situation by legally carrying a handgun in an "open carry" state. For more:

  • Trying to help: "The police calling him a killer, when they had the video there," says Ben Crump, the family lawyer. "They wanted to justify the killing and that's why they were so quick to assassinate his character. When the police saw him, all they saw was the worst, when the young man was trying to help the situation."

  • Ask questions later: Crump—who represented the families of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin in other high-profile cases, notes—says Bradford was standing over the 18-year-old victim's body when police "shot first ... [and] asked questions later, because he was a black man." Crump is calling for police to release videos of the shooting.
  • Guns in Alabama: Bradford's family says he had a concealed-gun license, the Washington Post reports. The Galleria forbids firearms on site, but says Alabama is generally permissive about gun rights, and it's not clear whether the Galleria had posted signs needed to impose a firearm ban. In the post-shooting chaos, reports that "several shoppers were seen with their guns drawn."
  • Videos: See a YouTube video of the chaos here. Per the Post, one cellphone video shows police standing over Bradford and holding someone else down as a man shouts: "That boy didn't shoot at nobody. He’s dead! They just killed that black boy for no reason ... He probably got a gun license and everything."
  • Protest: Dozens of protesters gathered outside the mall Saturday demanding justice in Bradford's death. Their chants included "Police lied, and they still lying," "Stop shopping here," and "Not one more time."
  • The Army: Bradford had received a general discharge from the Army, which said only that Bradford didn't finish his training, per the New York Times. Bradford's family says he was discharged due to injury. In ABC 33/40's live feed, relatives say Bradford was the youngest person in a military family.
  • The officer: The Hoover Police Dept. says it's conducting an internal investigation and has placed the officer who shot Bradford on leave. "The Alabama NAACP believes those officers should be immediately removed and never allowed employment with any police force or establishment where using a gun is a requirement," says Benard Simelton, president of Alabama NAACP.
In related news, a black bouncer was killed by police responding to a bar shooting.

(Read more police shooting stories.)

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