Erron Martez Dequan Brown, age 20, was arrested on Thursday as a suspect in the shooting at the Riverchase Galleria mall in Alabama last week. Emantic “EJ” Bradford, Jr., who was moving people out of the line of fire, was shot and killed by police because they initially claimed that he was the shooter.
Police now say that Brown got into an altercation with 18-year-old Brian Xavier Wilson and shot him in the stomach as well as a 12-year-old bystander. Both victims were treated at hospitals.
Ben Crump, the Bradford family lawyer, has requested video footage of the incident to show that the officers were negligent in assessing the situation and prematurely judging Bradford as a criminal. They didn’t recognize him as an ally moving bystanders to safety away from the original altercation.
Police dragged Bradford’s name in the mud after shooting him. They said he brandished a gun. But Bradford actually had a license to carry a weapon.
Although premature information about Bradford was allowed to be released, ironically, police said releasing a video of the incident would be premature in the current investigation.
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) spokeswoman Robyn Bryan said: “It is highly likely that prematurely releasing information, including video evidence, would have hampered the investigation’s progress thus far, even to the point of deterring key witnesses. As other witnesses continue to come forward, it is imperative for the integrity of the investigation that SBI continue to keep confidential information Agents obtain.”
This disparity in treatment comes from a government agency in a state that contributes little to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2017, the state of Alabama had a lower GDP per capita ($36,796) than the U.S. average ($53,128.54); and a lower GDP growth rate (1.3 percent) than the U.S. average (2.3 percent).
During a meeting with officials at the prayer vigil for Bradford on Tuesday, the family said law enforcement offered a “borderline” apology for Bradford’s killing, meanwhile the mayor was crying.
Brandford’s father said that he “kind of” accepted the apology given by Police Chief Nick Derzis.
“I know he has people to report to, including the mayor,” he said. I’ll let them work that out.”
Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson, who attended and helped coordinate the meeting, said “The mayor was shaking like a leaf.”
Activists have said they will shut down the city, if needed, to bring justice. Protests have already occurred on Monday and Tuesday.
“You know me. We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing. We’re going to continue our peaceful demonstrations of civil disobedience,” said Carlos Chaverst. “If we have to shut down the entire city of Hoover, we will do that. And if we have to stop everybody in Hoover from spending another dime here, we will do that. We will do whatever we need to do to bring more attention, more awareness and more justice.”
Crump issued this statement following the arrest of Brown: “We are gratified at the arrest of a suspect in the Thanksgiving Riverchase Galleria mall shooting, further underscoring the unjust death of EJ Bradford Jr. at the hands of an off-duty Hoover police officer who was serving as mall security. Right now, EJ’s family is focused on planning their son’s funeral, to be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Boutwell Memorial Auditorium. They look forward to reviewing unaltered video evidence of the shooting next week, after properly remembering and honoring EJ and enduring the painful process of burying their son.”
Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr said while charges have been brought against Brown, the state investigation is not complete and remains ongoing.
“We are confident ALEA is working to complete the investigation in a timely manner,” Carr said. “However, in light of the fact that so many people were present in the mall that evening, witness interviews are still ongoing.”
“Once Brown’s extradition from Georgia has been affirmed, Brown will be booked into the Jefferson County Jail, Birmingham, under a $150,000 bond. Additional charges are expected as the investigation progresses,” authorities said.
Anyone with information regarding the Galleria shooting is asked to call ALEA at 334-462-9163.