Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice lawyer hired to represent family of man killed by Hoover police officer at Riverchase Galleria as Black Lives Matter protests begin
The shooting at the Riverchase Galleria on the night of Thanksgiving could become America’s next racial flashpoint, with national media outlets and the lawyer who previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice jumping into the fray as protesting began in Hoover on Saturday.
After 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, who was reportedly brandishing a weapon at the time, was killed by a Hoover Police officer on Thursday night in the immediate aftermath of the Galleria shooting, officials first reported that Bradford was the gunman who shot an 18-year-old male following an altercation in the mall. A 12-year-old girl was also shot during the incident.
The Hoover Police Department has now apologized for coming to this conclusion too hastily, as the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the scene and interviewed witnesses afterwards and determined that Bradford “likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim.”
Now, people are now pouncing on the police department, alleging that Bradford was “assassinated.”
The New York Times reported that Bradford’s mother, April Pipkins, has hired “Benjamin L. Crump, a Tallahassee, Fla., lawyer, who has in the past represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice.”
Crump criticized the police department for “jumping to conclusions,” while asserting that Bradford “was trying to be somebody who helped save people” at the time of his death.
The attorney’s claim about why Bradford was wielding a gun at the time of his death appears to come from Pipkins’ speculation to The New York Times. She explained her son was living with her near Birmingham and “would not have been involved in the shooting, and might have been trying to protect other people in the mall.”
The Hoover Police Department has said that is still possible that Bradford was involved in the altercation with the 18-year-old victim in some fashion, yet the investigative scrutiny will focus on Bradford’s brandishing of the gun and whether the officer was justified in his actions. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is running the investigation into the Galleria shooting now, with Hoover PD also carrying out its own separate, internal investigation centered on the officer-involved shooting aspect.
Benard Simelton, Alabama NAACP president, released a statement on Saturday concluding, “A life has been lost because police do not see African Americans as humans.”
While protesters at the Galleria on Saturday, carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs, chanted that the police department “lied” and is “still lying,” one clear point of misinformation has emerged from Bradford’s family.
At the protest, Bradford’s aunt, Catherine Jewell, said he was in Birmingham because he was in the Army and on furlough (leave) at the time of his death, according to Alabama Media Group. In a later article, they added that a press release from Crump “stated that Bradford was an honorably-discharged veteran of the U.S. Army who was licensed to carry a concealed firearm.”
However, The New York Times confirmed that Bradford received a general discharge from the Army in August.
“An Army spokesman said Mr. Bradford had not completed his training but would not elaborate,” the publication added.
Alabama Media Group further reported that Carlos Chaverst, Jr., president of the Birmingham activist group Justice League, organized the protest and called Bradford a “soldier.”
Their article added that the protest was intended “to show unrest.”
Alabama Media Group‘s Carol Robinson has since been informed by Army Public Affairs that “Bradford did not serve in the Army, as he never completed Advanced Individual Training.”
Chaverst and the group of protesters marched through the Galleria, chanting, “No justice, no peace.”
Signs held by members of the crowd also included “Stop Police Killings!” and “End Systemic Racism.”
Then, there was the sign representing “Birmingham Indivisible,” a group organized solely around opposing President Donald Trump and his agenda. It said “#Resist” and “#NotMyPOTUS,” not mentioning the shooting whatsoever.
The large lead banner at the protest simply read “No to Police Gun Violence.”
Law enforcement officers were on hand to escort the protesters around and ensure their safety while they exercised their First Amendment rights.
At first, as the marchers began to enter the Galleria, a protest leader declared, “We are here to shop because – guess what – we are shoppers and we got the right to shop in the mall.”
With a rallying call of, “Let’s go shop!” the protesters entered the building without any issues, while saying, “If we don’t get in, shut it down.”
— Larissa Scott (@LarissaWVTM13) November 24, 2018
After being allowed to march throughout the building while continuing to protest and not shopping, they exited and then began to call for a boycott of the Galleria.
Their most prevalent chant after reemerging outside became, “Stop shopping here! Not one more time.”
— Larissa Scott (@LarissaWVTM13) November 24, 2018
As of Saturday night, the shooter(s) of the 18-year-old and 12-year-old was/were still at-large.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn