Details, including any video, of the deadly shooting of 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald “EJ” Bradford will not be released by police at this time, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis announced Monday morning.
At a press conference held last week, Derrick Murphy, Hoover’s lone black city council member, called for state authorities to release information and footage regarding the deadly shooting of Bradford inside the Riverchase Galleria. Murphy, along with Derzis and Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato, said ALEA had been asked to release information about the shooting by noon today. If ALEA did not, city officials said they might release it themselves.
“Hoover officials are respecting the requests of ALEA to not release any information at the risk of compromising the justice process for everyone involved,’’ Derzis said in a statement released this morning.
Bradford shot three times from behind, private autopsy shows
Derzis said Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Hal Taylor communicated with the chief and the mayor over the weekend, reiterating ALEA’s stance on the premature release of any critical information regarding the investigation. It’s important, Taylor told them, that the integrity of the investigation be maintained.
“He has specifically asked that we do not release any potential evidence as it may not only jeopardize the integrity of the case, but also complicate or delay their efforts,’’ Derzis said.
Hoover may share mall shooting information if state won’t release video
Derzis’ statement, part of the promised weekly updates by Hoover city and police officials, was accompanied by a copy of Taylor’s letter.
In that letter, Taylor emphasized it is imperative for the integrity of any criminal investigation conducted by ALEA that information obtained by the State Bureau of Investigation agents be kept confidential until an investigation is officially closed, and a report is made to the appropriate prosecuting authority.
Here is what Taylor wrote:
“Accordingly, ALEA continues to request the City of Hoover’s full cooperation and support in not disclosing any information or evidence relevant to the shooting incidents that occurred on Thursday, Nov. 22, at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, AL., as those matters are currently under investigation by the SBI at the request of Tenth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Danny Carr.”
“This request specifically includes nondisclosure by the city of paper documents, records, tangible things, and electronically store information created by or in possession or under the control of the city which may be relevant to the events in question, including but not limited to any reports, written statements, electronic records, video and audio records, and physical evidence.”
Derzis said while he and other Hoover city officials maintain their commitment to be fully transparent during the process, they must respect ALEA’s request for full cooperation and continue to have faith in the judicial process.
“We want the whole truth, unimpeded and not delayed,’’ the chief said.
Murphy issued this statement shortly after Hoover’s morning announcement.
“First, my family and I continue to send our daily thoughts, prayers and support to the Bradford family. Their grace, dignity, and strength are nothing short of remarkable.
“Second, I am encouraged by my fellow City of Hoover officials and their willingness to hear a different perspective. We’ve had many difficult conversations this past week, which revealed great differences in life experiences. They are conversations we likely would have never had. We have only scratched the surface. The conversations must continue. I am hopeful that my fellow city officials and our community will stay engaged, continue to grow, and move towards healing and solutions in the years to come.
“Finally, this has been a difficult and impossible time for most of us – locally and nationally. Our difficulties pale in comparison to the Bradford family’s grief. I am disappointed that we cannot give the Bradford family the answers they deserve faster. Please pray for the Bradford family. Please pray for our community. Please pray for those grieving publicly and privately. Please be patient with me as I struggle to balance the privilege of being an elected official in the City of Hoover with the flinching of being an African-American following tragic circumstances like these.
“God has prepared us for such a time as this. We continue to support the Bradford family, the City of Hoover, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and our community as we seek truth in this storm.”
The shooting happened just before 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night on the second floor of the Riverchase Galleria. Hoover police said an argument between several young men led to gunfire. Brian Wilson, 18, was wounded, as was bystander 12-year-old Molly Davis, who took a bullet to the back. Bradford was shot by a Hoover police officer, who was in uniform and on-duty as part of a beefed up holiday shopping detail.
Bradford was pronounced dead on the scene. Eight other people were treated by paramedics for injuries sustained while fleeing the gunfire.
Authorities said the incident began with an altercation between Bradford and his friend – Wilson – and at least two other young men. Police initially said Bradford was the person who shot Wilson and Molly, but a day after that shooting, retracted that statement to say he was involved in the initial altercation and brandishing a handgun but did not fire the shots that wounded the other two victims. City officials later apologized in a private meeting with Bradford’s family for saying he was the person who shot the other victims.
Suspect in Alabama mall shooting captured by U.S. Marshals in Georgia
Six days after Bradford’s death, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office issued an attempted murder warrant against 20-year-old Erron Martez Dequan Brown. He is charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Wilson.
The U.S. Marshals Service captured Brown in Georgia on Thursday. He has waived extradition to Alabama and is expected to return to the state sometime this week. Authorities have said more charges could be filed against Brown. District Attorney Danny Carr said while charges have been brought against Brown, the state investigation is not complete and remains ongoing. “We are confident ALEA is working to complete the investigation in a timely manner,” Carr said. “However, in light of the fact that so many people were present in the mall that evening, witness interviews are still ongoing.”
Bradford’s family has hired a civil rights attorney, who has scheduled a 10 a.m. press conference for today to discuss what he described as a major update in the Bradford case after commissioning an independent medical review of Bradford’s autopsy, which was conducted by the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. The attorney, Ben Crump, said he and Bradford’s family believe the results of the review will “provide clarity and insight” into what happened when Bradford was killed
The death of the 21-year-old has sparked multiple protests in Hoover. Those protests have been held at the mall, Hoover City Hall, outside the home of the mayor and Sunday night outside the AMC Patton Creek movie theater in Hoover. The activists are demanding that police release body cam footage and mall surveillance video of the shooting and said Sunday night they fully expected the video to be released by noon today.
Rev. Jesse Jackson calls for transparency from Hoover police
Bradford’s funeral was held Saturday at Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham. More than 1,000 people filed into Boutwell to honor his life and memory. Bradford was a member of Rock City Church, which streamed the service live on the internet.
Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at the Saturday-morning service for Bradford and called on Hoover officials to release tapes of a police shooting and hold accountable the officer who fatally shot Bradford.
Jackson invoked the long history of Civil Rights in Birmingham and Alabama, and the recent Black Lives Matter movement. He preached about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the four little girls killed in a bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church. He also listed some of the black men killed by police in high-profile incidents, including Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and Philando Castile.
“We will have the tape made public,” Jackson said. “We want transparency, not coverup. Tell the whole story, tell it now. We want justice now. We want fairness now.”
City officials said in today’s update they are committed to transparency. “We want everyone who lives, works or visits Hoover to know that we are committed to the safety of our city, to healing from these tragic events and to the transparency of the ongoing investigation.”