Hundreds of people have staged a protest in the US state of Alabama after a policeman wrongly shot dead an African American who the officer thought had shot two persons at a shopping center.
The protesters gathered at the Riverchase Galleria mall in suburban Birmingham, where 21-year-old Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr was fatally shot Thursday after police officers responding to a shooting report confused him for the gunman.
The protest was organized by Carlos Chaverst Jr., president of the Birmingham activist group Justice League.
Protesters observed a moment of silence at the spot where Bradford was killed. His stepmother then addressed the crowd and described Braford as a respectful young man and son of a Birmingham police officer.
Bradford’s aunt Catherine Jewell said he served in the Army and was on leave for Thanksgiving.
“They didn’t have to take him like that,” Jewell said. She said that she and Bradford’s mother found out about the killing on Facebook and that no police officers came to Bradford’s mother’s house.
Police thought Bradford was responsible for wounding an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl. However, it retracted that statement later on and continued searching for the gunman.
Police had initially justified the killing, claiming an officer shot Bradford because he was “brandishing a handgun” while fleeing the scene of the shooting.
However, police captain Gregg Rector said in statement on Friday that new evidence suggested that while Bradford might have been involved in the shooting, “he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim.”
Rector said police now believed more than two individuals were involved in an altercation that caused the gunfire and the assailant was still at large.
Bradford’s father said Saturday night that his son had a permit to carry firearms for the purposes of self-defense.
The police said they “regret” their earlier incorrect statement which claimed that the shooter had been killed.
“We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not,” Rector said. “We remain committed to maintaining the integrity of this investigation, helping determine the facts involved, and assisting ALEA in their efforts.”