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They killed the wrong man.

You have probably heard about the Hoover/Birmingham mall shooting where police quickly admitted that the wrong man was shot and killed when police arrived to the scene. There is footage of the event. An investigation was completed. The big question- will the officer who killed this black man be charged. No, he won’t be.

Emantic “E.J.” Bradford Jr., 21 who enlisted in the US Army after high school was killed. The news quickly used words like “racially-motivated” and the police protestors and civil advocates quickly added to the narrative. Critics now question the investigation.

The Bradford family attorney said this-

Are we to accept that it is reasonable for our law enforcement officers to respond by acting on their inherent biases? In this case, it looks very much like the officer’s reasoning was ‘black man plus gun equals: shoot.’ The Attorney General says no more than 2 seconds elapsed between the time officers engaged EJ Bradford and the time he was gunned down by a police officer, who admitted he provided no verbal warning. Are we also to accept that the officer had no duty to determine what was actually happening, that instead it was fine for him to fire fatal shots with no more than 2 seconds to consider whether it was warranted – especially when there was a second officer who did not shoot? – Ben Crump, Esquire

Mr. Crump raises many good points, including the fact that racism has stained Alabama history. No one disagrees that EJ Bradford‘s was doing nothing wrong. Therefore, he should not have been shot. But can race be removed from the question of justification?

A [person] was in a mall full of people. Two people were already shot. He has a gun drawn by his side. Was it two seconds too many or not enough time to make the judgement call to shoot?

As a criminal defense attorney, I’m constantly scrutinizing “what did the police know in the moment that they [searched/arrested/shot and killed].” You have to look at the facts. Moreover, you have to look at the facts in a vacuum.This is a case where there is video evidence and the investigation can be done in a vacuum. But it doesn’t lessen the desire to find fault with the officer who pulled the trigger.

People presently question why people can shoot down people by mistake and “get away with it.” It’s an important query to investigate. It seems to come down to one question that we as a society need to answer- Do we want designated people to come to a scene where people are in danger and eliminate the danger?

The existence of law enforcement seem to prove that we do. I haven’t heard anyone say “eliminate police” no matter how much distain there is. So, what’s the solution?

Gun control? Increased standards and training for LEOs? Heightened education requirements for LEOs or gun owners? Meet and greets between local police and law-abiding gun owners in the community who may one day come to the rescue with their lawfully-owned gun?

Perhaps for now, police-led training for law-abiding gun owners about active shooter situations could be a good first step for gun owners to understand the preconceptions that police bring to an active shooter call and, at the same time, familiarize police with the fact that heroes and villains cannot be stereotyped by appearance.

One final thought- what strikes me is that the individual who did maliciously shoot others (including a child) was charged with Attempted Murder. Under Florida law, this man could and would have been charged with Felony Murder as well and he would have been responsible for the death of  Emantic “E.J.” Bradford Jr. The real shooter is considered the “proximate cause” of Mr. Bradford’s death, meaning but for the original shooter firing shots, Mr. Bradford would’ve never been killed. If nothing else, Mr. Bradford’s family would have the benefit of seeing justice as they should.


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Jack Rogers
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