Officials still have not released the name of the police officer who shot and killed a 21-year-old black man Thanksgiving night at the Riverchase Galleria mall in Hoover. A report from the Alabama attorney general’s office Tuesday cleared the officer of any criminal wrongdoing when he shot Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. He thought Bradford was the gunman in an active shooter situation.
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said at a press conference Tuesday withholding the officer’s identity is about fairness.
“Just as any other private citizen that is investigated and found not to have committed a crime their name is not released,” Brocato says. “That’s the same procedure that we will follow with this officer.” Read more.
Danny Carr didn’t stammer as he provided closing thoughts to a gathering Thursday night in downtown Birmingham. The Jefferson County district attorney was making a point to reduce the deaths of young African-American men and boys.
“We need to continue to engage, engage, engage,” he began. “Be involved, involved, involved.”
More than 200 persons – the vast majority black men – assembled at The Parthenon, the meeting place of the Omicron Lambda graduate chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. The gathering was a frank conversation with members of law enforcement and persons involved in criminal justice. Read more.
Reactions to the attorney general’s decision not to press a case against the Hoover police officer who shot Emantic “E.J.” Bradford Jr. on Thanksgiving night continued Wednesday.
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said in press conference that the city will give its full support to the officer, who has not been officially named, if civil suits are filed in the case. City information officer Melanie Posey said the city had deemed the findings of the report thorough and complete. Read more.
In a new report released Tuesday, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office says the officer who shot and killed Emantic Bradford Jr. Thanksgiving night was justified. Read more.
Protesters at a Walmart in Hoover chanted “no justice no peace” one night last month as they approached the entrance. There have been several similar demonstrations in the wake of the fatal police shooting of a black man at the Galleria mall on Thanksgiving. At one of those demonstrations, police arrested protest leader Carlos Chaverst. They charged him with disorderly conduct and loitering for wearing a mask. It’s one of the more antiquated laws in Alabama. Over the last decade or so there have been numerous challenges to mask laws across, and many states have added the language “intent to intimidate.” But Alabama’s law includes no such language. Read more.
In a presentation to neighborhood officers, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith laid out a new strategy for the department and urged residents to be proactive in addressing crime in their communities.
“We have to get real about it,” he said. “We cannot do things the way we always did.”
Thursday’s meeting, which took place after a swearing-in ceremony for newly elected neighborhood officers, was one of the first major presentations of Smith’s strategy since he took the job in June. Smith described his first six months on the job as playing “catch-up” with a department that had fallen “behind the curve” in its approach to fighting crime.
“When I took over, I did an analysis of the department,” he said. “Over time, from 2014 to 2018, crime has doubled … We have to do a lot to bring this police department back to where it needs to be.” Read more.
▪ Alabama has the highest rate of concealed gun permits in the country.
▪ Jefferson County has the lowest permit fee in the state.
▪ One in five adults has a permit to carry a gun.
Birmingham rang in the new year with a chorus of gunfire.
Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith told the City Council Wednesday that his department’s ShotSpotter technology had detected 960 gunshots — most attributed to celebratory firing into the air — throughout the city on New Year’s Eve, an increase from the 469 shots recorded Dec. 31, 2017.
That uptick is partially due to an expansion of the ShotSpotter program, which was increased by roughly 30 percent in 2018. “The numbers are going to higher because we’re detecting more,” Smith said.
But the increase also is indicative of the city’s gun culture, in which a large proportion of adults wield handguns, many with little knowledge or regard for gun safety.
“It’s stupid,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said Wednesday. “The people who committed these acts, it was very stupid of them to do, because any bullet that goes up must come down.”
Concern over the gunshots was in some ways an appropriate way for city officials to start 2019, which follows one of the city’s most violent years in recent memory. 2018, with 109 recorded homicides, narrowly avoided 2017’s 23-year high of 117 homicides. Read more.
Several major changes are headed to Birmingham in 2019, although some will be more apparent than others. They range from the bureaucratic – such as new members on the Birmingham City Council, ongoing personnel shake-ups at the Birmingham Public Library and calls for a comprehensive public safety plan – to the physical – including a major interstate closure and construction of a new open-air stadium at the BJCC.
Read about what the year ahead looks like for the Magic City.
More What to Watch in 2019
Economic development is likely to be a primary focus for Jefferson County and the County Commission during 2019. The county hit a mother lode, or at least the offshoot of one, during 2018 with Amazon and DC Blox announcing they are establishing operations in Bessemer and North Titusville, respectively. Look for Jefferson County to continue prospecting for more golden nuggets in 2019. Read more.
Environmental issues have made headlines throughout 2018, and 2019 promises to be no different.
Decisions will be made that affect the cleanliness of the state’s waters, air and land. Issues that will affect recycling, coal mining and solar, nuclear and hydropower generation also are looming on the horizon. Here are a few of the issues to watch in 2019.
A gasoline tax increase to fund road improvements is expected to be a major topic of the 2019 Alabama legislative session. Legislators also are expecting several hundred million more dollars to spend in the education budget and will be debating raises, a child literacy program and other education improvements. Other issues include funding improvements in prisons and a possible lottery proposal. Read more.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall was criticized for taking over the case of the shooting death of a black man by police, but his office says intervening in cases held by local district attorneys is common.
“We regularly assume prosecution of cases in which the local district attorney has a conflict and that has included officer-involved shootings,” Joy Patterson, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said this week. “Since Attorney General Marshall was sworn in, the attorney general’s office has handled nearly 90 cases for district attorneys.”
Marshall, a former district attorney, became attorney general in February 2017 and was elected to a full term in November.
State law says the attorney general may at any time “superintend and direct the prosecution of any criminal case in any of the courts of this state.”
But there was outcry last week when Marshall, citing a conflict of interest for District Attorney Danny Carr, announced his office would handle the probe into Emantic “E.J.” Bradford Jr.’s death. Bradford, who was armed, was killed by police who were responding to another shooting at the Galleria Riverchase mall in Hoover on Thanksgiving night. Weeks of public protest followed.
Bradford’s family, protestors and some elected officials have said the case should have been left with newly elected Carr. He’s the first black district attorney in Jefferson County.
“The first time we elect a black district attorney, he gets the first high-profile case taken away from him,” state Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said this week.
Protests in Hoover over the police shooting of E.J. Bradford have been suspended after protestors and city officials reached agreement on several steps aimed at improving race relations in the city, protest leaders announced during a press conference Wednesday.
Birmingham Justice League member Iva Williams said the protests will be suspended as long as Hoover officials move forward in good faith with measures on which both sides agreed during a meeting Monday.
Hoover city administrator Allan Rice, however, told the Hoover Sun that, while both sides met and discussed next steps, the city did not commit to specific actions. Read more.
Hoover city officials have not been reacting just to the violence at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night and the protests that followed, they said, the incident also has brought to the forefront a longstanding need to look at issues of inclusion in the growing city.
The efforts to include minority voices in each phase of government and assure equity for all citizens began months back and “will continue regardless of the outcome of the state investigation of the shooting,” said Hoover city administrator Allan Rice. “This incident has compelled us to.”
Within a day after Emantic Fitzgerald “E.J.” Bradford Jr. was shot three times and killed by a Hoover police officer, Carlos Chaverst started making plans to speak out against the circumstances of his death. He announced plans through Facebook to protest at the Riverchase Galleria, where Bradford was killed.
The event posting included details that explained to anyone who planned to join the protest what they might expect. Warning that there would be likely arrests, the event page advised anyone who had outstanding warrants or who wasn’t in a position to take the risk of begin arrested to “step back when the cops say step back.” His posting also warned that people could be physically hurt during the protest.
Almost every day since, protests have taken place – from calling for a boycott of Hoover businesses, gathering to block roads and highways, speaking at City Council meetings, protesting at Hoover-area shops and the home of Hoover’s mayor, and holding a candlelight vigil and a “die-in” at the location in the Galleria where Bradford was killed. The protesters have applied continual pressure through protests, press conferences, social media and interviews.
Chaverst and Justice for EJ co-leader Le’Darius Hilliard began the protests spontaneously after the incident occurred, but they did not come as much out of the blue as they appeared. Read more.
The lawyer for the family of Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. says State Attorney General Steve Marshall did not follow the normal process when he took over the fatal shooting case from Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr. Read more.