The man shot down by police who mistook him for the suspect in an Alabama shopping mall shooting on Thanksgiving night died after being hit by three bullets, all shot from behind him, a lawyer for his family said on Monday.
The official autopsy of Emantic “EJ” Bradford, 21, has been released, but an independent review from a pathologist commissioned by his family shows that Bradford had his back to police when he was shot, civil rights attorney Ben Crump told reporters.
Crump said “It clearly demonstrates that EJ posed no threat to the off-duty Hoover Police Department officer who killed him while working a private security detail at Riverchase Galleria mall, since EJ was moving away from him,”.
He said the evidence confirmed accounts of several witnesses who said Bradford “was trying to help others.”
Two other people were injured when gunfire broke out on the night of Nov. 22 in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover. Bradford was himself severely shot in the ensuing pandemonium as police came and shoppers scattered for cover.
Police said Bradford, a black man, made a disordered situation worse by drawing his own handgun, causing an officer to consider him a threat and open shots on him. Even after admitting the wrong man had been killed, police said Bradford “may have been involved in some aspect” of precipitating events.
The man since blamed of being the shooter was detained a week later in Georgia on suspicion of attempted murder.
By that time, the case had called wide attention, with protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement branding the shooting as the recent example of police focusing on minorities with unnecessary lethal force.
Firearms safety advocates also named the incident as a counterpoint to arguments made by gun rights advocates that armed civilians in public places can help frustrate wishful perpetrators of mass shootings.
The autopsy review from Crump indicates that Bradford was struck by bullets to his head, the base of his neck and his lower torso, all entering his body from the back.
Crump describes it as “the latest egregious example of a black man killed because he was perceived to be a threat due to the color of his skin.”
Replying to this, the city of Hoover encouraged Crump to submit his report to state authorities investigating the shooting.
The city also refused to release any more information for now, including video or autopsy results, in order to protect “the integrity” of the investigation.”