Our heart hurts so much for the family of E.J. Bradford.
What also hurts is that after his death he is merely known as the young black man mistakenly shot by police.
On Thanksgiving Day, a gunman opened fire in the River Chase Mall in Birmingham. Bradford, Jr., who is licensed to carry brandished his gun according to police when he was shot and killed. The Hoover Police Department hailed their officer as a hero… until it was discovered that he shot the wrong man.
The officer shot and killed 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. an army veteran. We’ve read through more than five news articles and watched numerous interviews, yet we have yet to hear about Mr. Bradford other than police mistakenly shot him.
It's not enough to say, “he was mistakenly shot by police.” We need to hear his story. The word, victim, does not give him an identity. The 21-year-old is a son. He is a friend. He is a resident of Hueytown that the Community is proud of and that's exactly why, regardless of race, the Community is in River Chase Mall screaming, "Justice for EJ."
We have to start getting beneath the surface of these officer-involved shooting stories. The narrative is still controlled by law enforcement, and that is why regardless of fault the cases always end in a settlement without more legal accountability. The reality is the laws that govern law enforcement haven’t been changed since 1940. That’s before the civil rights movement. That’s before hundreds marched in the streets for Civil Rights Activist Jimmie Lee Jackson.
If you want change, you’ll have to be bold. Bold enough to take back your narrative.
That’s the worst part of this story is that E.J. Bradford will go down as another black man killed by police.
He is a son.
He is a soldier.
He is a hero.
Just think about what else he could have become?