A 21-year-old black man was shot and killed by police on Thanksgiving, with police initially identifying him as the gunman who shot at least one person at a mall near Birmingham, Ala.
As it turns out, Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was not the gunman, and last Friday, police backtracked on earlier statements, saying that evidence now suggested that he had nothing to do with the shooting and real gunman was still at large.
“We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not,” the police said in a statement, according to the New York Times
Initially, Hoover police had claimed that officers “encountered a suspect brandishing a pistol and shot him,” although it was not made clear whether offices thought Bradford had already fired his weapon, or intended to fire it before he was shot to death.
“We can say with certainty Mr. 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 in a statement on Monday, according to ABC 11
, insinuating that Bradford Jr. should not have pulled the weapon that he was licensed to carry.
Bradford’s mother, April Pipkins, said that her son, who was living with her near Birmingham, would have never been involved in the shooting, believing that he was actually trying to protect those in the mall from the actual shooter.
“That was not his character at all,” she told The Times. “He loved life, and he loved people.”
Bradford’s family is now demanding that law enforcement release any footage available from the mall that day.
“He was an honorable young man who was assassinated,” Bradford’s uncle, Anthony Thomas, told the news site.
Pipkins is being represented by civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has in the past represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. Crump blasted Hoover police for “jumping to conclusions.”
“He was trying to be somebody who helped save people, yet he was killed,” Crump said.