The police officer who fatally shot a man he mistook as a shooter at an Alabama shopping mall will return to work after the state attorney general decided not to charge him. Hoover city officials announced Wednesday that the unnamed officer has their full support, AL.com reports, including financial help if the officer faces any lawsuits in the death of Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr., 21. "We will defend our city and we will defend our police officers," Mayor Frank Brocato said. Attorney General Steve Marshall's report says the officer thought Bradford, who held a gun in the immediate aftermath of a Thanksgiving night shooting at the mall, was "an immediate deadly threat to innocent civilians," the Washington Post reports. But an attorney for the Bradford family says "the police shot, we believe, because they feared a black man with a gun."
The 26-page report found the officer was "justified and not criminal" in opening fire on Bradford just after the actual suspect, Erron Brown, allegedly shot and wounded 18-year-old Brian Wilson. It's not clear why Bradford drew his gun, but his family has said he had a concealed carry license and may have been trying to help. Bradford's family attended a protest outside City Hall on Tuesday night, and decried the decision to clear the officer. "You shoot my first-born son three times, three kill shots, and you call this justice. How dare you," Bradford's mother, April Pipkins, said. "If this happened to your child, would you still call it justice? Because I don’t see any justice in this." Protests followed the shooting, NPR reports, and activists say they will now resume, per AL.com. Carlos Chaverst, an organizer of the protest Tuesday, spray-painted "Black lives don’t matter" on two American flags before setting them ablaze in front of city hall. (More on the case here.)