E. J. Bradford Jr
Bradford was the son of Emantic Bradford Sr, a former food supervisor of the Birmingham City Jail, and April Pipkins. He attended Holy Family Cristo Rey High School and completed his diploma through the General Educational Development (GED) program. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2017 and completed basic training. He suffered a leg injury during his specialty training as a combat engineer and was administratively separated in August 2018. Bradford lived in Hueytown and worked full time to help support his family while his father was being treated for cancer.
On Thanksgiving evening, November 22, 2018, Bradford was at the Riverchase Galleria with a friend, Brian Wilson. A fight broke out on the upper level of the mall, near the JC Penney and Foot Action stores at around 9:50 PM, escalating to gunshots. Wilson was injured, as was a 12-year-old girl. Bradford, who was in possession of a handgun, for which he had a valid permit, was among the people rushing from the area. He was confronted by a Hoover Police Officer, who shot him in the face.
The specifics of their encounter are disputed. Initially police reported that Bradford was the suspected shooter and that he "brandished" his gun and refused to follow the officer's instructions. Investigators later determined that Bradford's gun had not been fired, and police clarified that they had used the term "brandish" only to mean he was holding his gun. Hoover officials apologized to Bradford's family for their erroneous statement identifying him as the shooter.
The family, through attorney Benjamin Crump of Tallahassee, Florida, have disputed whether Bradford had pulled his gun from his waistband. They also accuse the police of barring medics from treating Bradford as he lay wounded, and deplored the fact that they learned of E. J.'s death by seeing video of his body on social media rather than being notified by authorities. Crump hired an independent pathologist to examine Bradford's body and announced on December 3 that he had been shot three times, generally from the back.
Bradford's death joined a long list of apparently unjustified police shootings of young black men in the United States. Protests by Black Lives Matter and other groups were held at the Galleria, at the Hoover Municipal Center, and outside Mayor Frank Brocato's residence. Rock City Church pastor Mike McClure presided, and national Civil Rights activist Jesse Jackson delivered a eulogy at Bradford's December 1 funeral at Boutwell Auditorium. Bradford was buried at Valhalla Cemetery.
Crump filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Bradford's family in November 2019.
- Reeves, Jay (November 27, 2018). "If Emantic 'E.J.' Bradford had been white, 'the whole scenario would have played out differently,' mom says". AP/USA Today
- Johnson, Roy S. (November 29, 2018) "Hoover officials apologize to E.J. Bradford’s family for saying he was shooter." The Birmingham News
- Hrynkiw, Ivana (November 29, 2018) "Galleria shooting: Jesse Jackson to deliver E.J. Bradford’s eulogy." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (November 29, 2018) "Dozens gather to mourn E.J. Bradford’s death, promote peace." The Birmingham News
- Johnson, Roy S. (December 1, 2018) "Emantic ‘E.J.’ Bradford, Jr: a ‘silly’, ‘goofball’, ‘teacher’s pet’ who ‘resonates with so many’." The Birmingham News
- Yurkanin, Amy (December 1, 2018) "Rev. Jesse Jackson calls for transparency from Hoover police." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol & Howard Koplowitz (November 22, 2019) "EJ Bradford’s family filing wrongful death lawsuit against Hoover, police officer who shot him." The Birmingham News