Just hours after proclaiming an officer had fatally shot a man suspected of opening fire in a mall, Alabama police said Friday that they now believe the armed man they killed hadn’t fired any shots at all.
Officers had been responding to a shooting on Thanksgiving Day that took place at the Riverchase Galleria mall in Hoover, sending the mall into chaos as shoppers fled for their lives.
Police said an 18-year-old man involved in a fight with another man was shot twice, injuring him, while a 12-year-old girl bystander was also wounded.
When an officer saw 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. run from the scene with a gun in his hand, the officer opened fire, killing him.
Their initial police release on Friday morning described Bradford only as “a suspect brandishing a pistol.”
But later on Friday, Hoover police said that although Bradford “may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim.”
“We regret that our initial media release was not totally accurate, but new evidence indicates that it was not,” police spokesperson Capt. Gregg Rector said.
This change in the official version of events was based on Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigators interviewing witnesses and crime scene technicians examining “new evidence” at the scene, authorities said.
The suspect who possibly shot the 18-year-old and young bystander is still at large, according to Rector.
The officer who killed Bradford was placed on administrative leave while the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency investigates the police shooting, authorities said.
Bradford’s father said his son was a 21-year-old Army veteran with a permit to carry a weapon. The statement police released early Monday suggested Bradford shouldn’t have pulled it out.
The department also released a statement saying “We extend sympathy to the family of Emantic J. Bradford of Hueytown, who was shot and killed during Hoover Police efforts to secure the scene in the seconds following the original altercation and shooting. The loss of human life is a tragedy under any circumstances,” the statement said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a good guy with a gun, if you’re black the police shoot and kill you and ask questions later,” Ben Crump, an attorney for the family said.
The news of Bradford’s death comes one week after the killing of a Chicago security guard, who had apprehended an active shooter and was mistakenly shot by police outside a bar, sparked outrage online.