Alabama police have admitted the man they shot dead during a Thanksgiving gunfight was an innocent shopper. The 21-year-old black man, shot by mistake, did not fire a gun, and the real shooter or shooters are still at large.
On Thursday night, gunfire broke out in Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama. An 18-year-old and a 12-year-old were wounded and taken to a hospital. Some people hid in back rooms of the mall and others fled, AL.com reported.
Police alleged that Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr was involved in an altercation that ended in gunfire, and a police officer reportedly thought that Mr Bradford was the shooter. He did have a gun, for which he had a permit, and when an officer saw him fleeing, the officer shot Mr Bradford dead.
Hoover Police Department initially told reporters Mr Bradford had shot a teen at the mall, but later retracted the statement. However, police have now admitted that Mr Bradford likely did not fire his weapon, and the real shooter was still at large. According to witnesses, two separate instances of gunfire were heard during the shooting.
More than 200 demonstrators, including several relatives, chanted "EJ" and "no justice, no peace" as they marched past Christmas shoppers at the mall. They held a moment of silence at the spot outside a shoe store where Bradford was killed.
Upon hearing the accusations against Mr Bradford his stepmother, Cynthia Bradford, said: "We knew that was false."
"They should have never have killed him,” Mr Bradford's half sister, 7-year-old Emani Smith, said.
Protesters gathered outside outside the mall to challenge the actions of the police, AL.com reported.
They asked shoppers to boycott the mall, and demanded answers from the police department. Mr Bradford’s aunt Catherine Jewell said that he was “a great guy” and that no police officer had come to his mother’s house to inform her of the death; instead, she found out on Facebook.
Demonstrators demanded the officer involved release his body camera footage. The update garnered anger online, and Black Lives Matter activists protested on Saturday.
The police department said it was still investigating.
Additional reporting by agencies
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