Protests Move To Alabama's State Capitol After Officer Cleared In Shooting Death On Thanksgiving night, Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer responding to gunfire in the mall. Protesters are angry at a new report that exonerates the officer.
NPR logo Protests Move To Alabama's State Capitol After Officer Cleared In Shooting Death

Protests Move To Alabama's State Capitol After Officer Cleared In Shooting Death

Residents of Hoover, Ala., have been protesting for months over the shooting death of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. On Tuesday, a report by the state attorney general exonerated the police officer who shot Bradford. Kim Chandler/AP hide caption

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Kim Chandler/AP

Residents of Hoover, Ala., have been protesting for months over the shooting death of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. On Tuesday, a report by the state attorney general exonerated the police officer who shot Bradford.

Kim Chandler/AP

In Hoover, Ala. on Wednesday, Mayor Frank Brocato says the city plans to defend the unidentified officer who shot and killed Emantic Bradford Jr. in any potential civil litigation.

This comes one day after Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall's office released a report by the State Bureau of Investigation that cleared the officer of wrongdoing.

In a press conference Wednesday morning, Brocato says he "respects the attorney general's findings and encourages everyone to read the report in full."

Bradford was killed Thanksgiving night at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover. He was shot by a Hoover police officer responding to gunfire inside the mall. When the officer arrived on the scene, he says he saw Bradford with a gun and assumed he was a threat. Bradford was running towards his friend, Brian Wilson, when the officer fired three bullets from behind into Bradford's head, neck and back. Wilson was one of two people wounded by Erron Brown, who fled the scene and said he was acting in self-defense when he shot Wilson.

The day after the shooting, the mayor of Hoover and the chief of police said they were wrong, and that Bradford likely wasn't the shooter.

Marshall's report concludes the officer made a split-second decision and shot Bradford after the officer saw him running with a gun toward the area where two shots were fired and two people were wounded. "And that is the perspective that the officer had when he saw Mr. Bradford turn [in an] aggressive stance, head to the direction of people that were unarmed, and the officer made the decision that taking action with his firearm was going to ensure the safety of the people there," Marshall said in an interview with WBHM.

Outraged by the report's findings, activists moved their efforts Wednesday to the state capitol in Montgomery. Joining them were members of Bradford's family, who say they plan to file a civil suit against the officer who shot Bradford, and against the city of Hoover.

After the protest, the father of the victim, Emantic Bradford Sr., spoke openly about his pain. "My son is gone," he said. "Do you understand the feeling that I have every night when I lay down at night. And the memories I have of my child when he was young and when he got older. You don't feel my pain."

Bradford's family vows to hold future protests at Marshall's home and office.

Activists have been protesting the killing for two months throughout the city of Hoover. They have marched outside the home of the mayor, the mall where Bradford was killed, and blocked busy roads and interstates.

The protestors continue to ask that the entire video of the shooting be released, along with the identity of the officer who shot him. But Attorney General Steve Marshall told WBHM there is no reason to reveal the officer's identity.

"If any other individual were investigated by law enforcement and there was no determination a crime was committed, that information wouldn't be public," Marshall said. "There's no reason for an officer to be treated any differently."

Meanwhile, Hoover Mayor Brocato says he does not know the officer directly, but that the officer will go "through a process" outlined by Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis in order to return to work.

Troy Public Radio's Kyle Gassiott contributed to this report.