Alabama

Do Alabama Police Who Killed the Wrong Man Know What 'Brandished' Means?

Emantic Bradford Jr. may have had a gun. But he didn't deserve to die.

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Jeremy Raines/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Police in Hoover, Alabama, are still trying to get their story straight days after an officer shot and killed the wrong man at a mall last week.

It's still unclear what exactly happened on Thanksgiving night that led police working security to shoot and kill Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr. There was a prior shooting that injured two people, though police now say Bradford was probably not responsible. Still, Bradford was shot and killed by an officer who saw him holding a gun. While all the facts have yet to come out, the Hoover Police Department's seemingly ever-changing explanations haven't helped clear things up.

In a joint statement sent to media outlets yesterday morning, the police department and the city of Hoover claimed "with certainty" that "Bradford brandished a gun during the seconds following the gunshots, which instantly heightened the sense of threat to approaching police officers responding to the chaotic scene." As the Associated Press noted, the statement seems to suggest Bradford shouldn't have pulled out his gun at all, even though his father claims Bradford had a permit for the handgun. Alabama is also an open carry state.

Later yesterday, police posted an update to Facebook "to clarify" their use of "brandish." That word "was used because Mr. Bradford had a gun in his hand as police officers responded to the active shooter situation between mall patrons," police said.

Of course, there's a big difference between brandishing a gun and simply holding it in one's hand. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "brandish" means: "to wave something in the air in a threatening or excited way." Dictionary.com's definition—"to shake or wave, as a weapon; flourish"—is a little less specific. Still the threatening connotation is the same.

In Bradford's case, authorities have yet to reveal evidence suggesting he posed a threat to police or innocent bystanders. In fact, Ben Crump, an attorney for Bradford's family, said at a press conference Sunday that witnesses have claimed Bradford was attempting to help people in the midst of the chaos following the original shooting, only to be shot "within milliseconds" and without a verbal warning from the officer who opened fire. Bradford "was trying to be somebody who helped save people, yet he was killed," Crump said.

There's been significant confusion regarding this case from the beginning. It all started late Thursday night at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, where thousands of people were kicking off the holiday shopping season. The scene turned chaotic when a gunman opened fire, injuring an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl. At some point, Bradford took his gun out. He may not have been the only one, as AL.com reported Thursday that "several shoppers were seen with their guns drawn."

Bradford was quickly shot by police. According to The Washington Post:

"While moving toward the shooting scene, one of the officers encountered a suspect brandishing a pistol and shot him," police said in a statement written immediately after the shooting. In a revised statement, they said Bradford was fatally shot while "fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun."

At first, police said they had apprehended the right suspect. But on Saturday they admitted "that while Mr. 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." The 12-year-old who was shot is believed to have been an "innocent bystander," police said.

The investigation into the shooting, as well as the search for the real gunman, is now in the hands of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Hopefully, we'll soon get a clear picture of what happened that night.

That said, the death of Bradford, who was black, brings to mind a similar police shooting that took place just weeks ago. As Reason's Robby Soave reported earlier this month, an armed security guard at a bar in Chicago returned fire on an active shooter and eventually pinned him to the ground. But the guard who, like Bradford, was black, was shot and killed when police arrived on the scene and thought he was the bad guy.

In both cases, it's important not to make final conclusions until all the facts come out. But this much is clear: Neither man deserved to die. If witnesses are to be believed, both appear to have been the proverbial "good guy with a gun." The fact that police shot first and asked questions later just makes their deaths all the more tragic.

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92 responses to “Do Alabama Police Who Killed the Wrong Man Know What 'Brandished' Means?

  1. “Live by the gun, die by the gun,” to rephrase a very wise man.

    1. Well you’re an idiot.

      1. If you pull out a gun at a crime scene you’re liable to get shot at. If you didn’t know then NOW YOU KNOW.

        1. This is numbingly stupid. If a person is present when somebody starts shooting up the joint of course they should draw their weapon. The prime threat is the shooter, not police.

          1. This is numbingly stupid. If you didn’t learn that pulling out your gun makes you a target, then you need to get a refund on your firearms training course.

            1. While you are, obviously, correct that having a gun out at a crime scene (or more generally, having a gun on your body in proximity to cops) makes it more likely that you’ll get shot by police, it does raise a very important question: is the increased risk of being murdered by the cops worth the decreased risk of being murdered by a “bad guy with a gun”?

              1. Let’s see, Police get a call that a black male has shot some people at the mall. Police quickly respond and, upon arrival, see a black man running from the mall with a gun in his hand. Are they supposed to just walk up to him and politely ask him if he is the shooter? Get real! I get it about the right to carry and presuming innocence but, in reality, if Police believe that you could be a deadly threat, you may end up dead.

                1. You do realize there are other strategies than “shoot him” or “walk up to him and politely ask him”, right? Strategies that might involve using observational and communications skills…

  2. Do police even get trained anymore? Or do they just have them watch cop movies their first week on the job? Jeejus Cripes!

    1. I just checked my local requirements and you can be a supervised sheriff as long as you pass the state police course within a year, so no training to start.

    2. Do police even get trained anymore?

      Would you feel better if the answer was “YES!”?

      1. Yes, they get trained to shoot all threats — dogs of any breed, armed civilians (good shoot, totality of circumstances, chaotic scene, etc.), and anyone approaching them who seems out of sorts.

        1. They’re also allowed to shoot people who are lying down on the ground with empty hands displayed, as well as people on their hands and knees sobbing for mercy.

          1. You forgot those running away from the cops screaming for help.

    3. Do police even get trained anymore?

      Yes, they’re trained to shoot first, ask for forgiveness later. And they’re trained that the first call they make after a shooting isn’t for an ambulance, but to their union rep.

    4. Yes, they get trained to shoot first and ask questions later knowing that the psychopathic “experts” who trained them will lie for them on the stand.

    5. Maybe Reno 911

    6. Do police even get trained anymore?

      Better question: Was the victim black?

      Answer: Alabama.

  3. they said Bradford was fatally shot while “fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun.”

    Smart innocent people flee the scene of a shooting as well as shooters.. Cops are just trained to shoot and don’t waste time making commands anymore

  4. While all the facts have yet to come out, the Hoover Police Department’s seemingly ever-changing explanations haven’t helped clear things up.

    Does anyone find it funny that the police often point to an ever-changing story as sign of guilt?

    1. it’s the dark humour.

  5. “A human at the mall with a gun in his immediate vicintiy traversed the path of an officer’s bullet such that the bullet came to rest in the man’s body.”

    In both cases, it’s important not to make final conclusions until all the facts come out.

    Crazed gunman shoots and injures 2, the only fatality was a man, shot by the police. Both shooters still at large. What more facts are there to know?

  6. Will you people lighten up. Thugs gotta thug.

    I know it’s irritating that they do it on the taxpayer’s dime, but at least we know where they are most of the time.

  7. I’m sure the NRA is feverishly working on a press release condemning the cops in Hoover for shooting a guy that was availing himself of his rights under the 2nd Amendment…?

    Nah…just kidding.

    1. NRA is rethinking their support for concealed carry.
      “We didn’t know minorities were going to take advantage of concealed carry!”

      1. Little bit of revisionism, there, Chipper? Or just projecting your own bigotry onto your political opponents?

        One the NRA’s most common themes in articles and legal arguments is the blatantly racist history behind the vast majority of gun control laws.

        I will, however, agree with bevis’s point that the NRA’s official statements are often over-deferential to police.

        1. Right. It’s not a race thing. It’s a cop thing.

          1. You’re correct that the NRA doesn’t defend people who are inappropriately shot by police. But they don’t defend whites either. I don’t see how you are proving your point.

      2. Ah, how nice Chipper Morning Baculum feels to wrap himself up in a virtue signaling cloak to bash the NRA!

        As actual minorities like me know, the NRA has done more to help minorities defend themselves than any other organization by far.

        How “Crazy Negroes” With Guns Helped Kill Jim Crow

        Quote:
        The president of the Monroe, North Carolina NAACP, Robert F. Williams-who later authored a book-length argument for armed self-defense titled Negroes With Guns-that “resistance could be effective if we resisted in groups, and if we resisted with guns.” In addition to his duties with the NAACP, Williams established an all-black chapter of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and used his NRA connections to procure “better rifles” and automatic weapons for his constituents. Ten years after the funeral-parlor incident, those guns were used to repel a Klan assault against an NAACP leader’s house. Immediately following the shootout, the Monroe City Council banned Klan motorcades and, according to Williams, the KKK “stopped raiding our community.”

    2. What are you talking about? The Second clearly reads “…the right of the white people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

      1. You joke, but “original intent” and all that.

    3. Nah…just kidding.

      Again, if you were in charge of a large volunteer organization devoted to a single cause and a significant portion of your membership was no-shit, right-wing nutjobs existentially opposed to the police state in all forms and another faction of your membership was no-shit, rabid, shoot-on-sight, police officers, you’d have to be between stupid and crazy to talk about it, make it an issue, and pit your membership against itself over it. Crazy, stupid, or a politician.

  8. Looks like there was a semantic mix up with Emantic.

  9. One of the things that I learned in CHL classes is that the cops will routinely treat someone holding a gun in public as “brandishing” it, regardless of what they’re actually doing and what the legal definition of brandishing is. This was addressed as part of the “why it’s a bad idea to try to hold someone at gunpoint until the cops show up” topic.

    1. I agree with this viewpoint. Regardless of right or wrong, to probably 98% of cops holding gun = lethal threat and triggers lethal response. If I ever have to draw in self defense, once I believe the immediate area is cleared of threats my pistol will go back in it’s holster as quickly as I can safely put it there.

      1. Uh oh… moving in the presence of a police officer counts as threatening behavior, so they shot you.

    2. I had a family member who held a burglar at gun point and the responding officers did not shoot her.

      I have also heard about a training excercise where shooting the armed storekeeper was a no-no.

  10. If the police as a group believe in the 2nd Amendment, they need to rethink their procedures when encountering citizens with guns. What is the police brotherhood (or whatever fascist sounding name they use) position on citizens carrying weapons?

    1. ^This^

      The FOP (or whatever) needs to be scrutinized far more heavily than the NRA for any statements or lack thereof.

    2. What is the police brotherhood (or whatever fascist sounding name they use) position on citizens carrying weapons?

      Shoot first, avoid questions later.

    3. “If the police as a group believe in the 2nd Amendment,” Um, they only believe in the 2nd as far as it helps them keep power. A few individual members of the group might get it, but they’ll deny in many circumstances.

    4. “If the police as a group believe in the 2nd Amendment,” Um, they only believe in the 2nd as far as it helps them keep power. A few individual members of the group might get it, but they’ll deny in many circumstances.

  11. If the dumbass civilian had been properly trained, he would have seen the cop coming at him brandishing a firearm and immediately shot the cop. Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6, right? I’m sure everybody involved would have realized it was just a tragic misunderstanding – shots ring out, the guy sees a man with a gun, what’s he supposed to do in a split-second life-or-death situation?

  12. Am I supposed to be shocked that the police shot a citizen holding a gun in an active shooter situation? No doubt this is a tragedy, and I’m not suggesting the victim did anything wrong, but that doesn’t make this a Barney Fife situation either.

    1. Pay attention: Yes, it does. The cops have a duty not to kill innocent people. They failed here.

      1. SCOTUS has affirmed before, they have no such duty. It’s a “nice to have”, not a “necessary”.

    2. Well, let’s see. If I heard gun shots, then shot the first person I saw with a gun only to find that was another innocent bystander trying to stop the shooter, do you think the judicial system would give me a pass?

      Why are we holding civilians to higher standards than the police?

      1. TRAINED police.

      2. Exactly. You are justified in shooting at a person who is POINTING a gun at someone else. Not merely holding it.

      3. Why are we holding civilians to higher standards than the police?

        Police are civilians. And yes they should be held to a higher standard as they are ostensibly trained law enforcement agents.

  13. If it was in California I might understand but in Bama? C’mon.

    1. Rural deputies tend to know how to deal with armed citizens. City cops, not so much.

      It is a city/rural thing, not a red state/blue state one.

      1. Seriously? Last week it was a blue state/red state thing, now it’s a rural/city thing?

        No True Scotsman much?

        1. I realize it is a generalization and that like most generalizations it might not hold true in every case.

      2. No, no, don’t give up on this. Hoover is smack in the middle of a blue county in a red state.

  14. “In both cases, it’s important not to make final conclusions until all the facts come out.”

    Why? Nobody waits for the facts if sex crimes are alleged, with or without witnesses.
    It is a violation of equal protection for anyone accused of a crime not to be immediately fired, run out of town, and banned from social media. If you do it for any woman-identifying life form, you must do it for all.

  15. What happens if the “civilian” brandishing the weapon is actually an undercover campus cop?

    Maybe this.

    Here’s the brave officer’s page at officerdown,com

    All because some eighteen year old college kids might have been drinking beer at a tailgate party before a football game.

    1. Clearly the lesson to draw from this example is that more laws are needed. Once we finally have enough laws nothing bad will ever happen again. There could never be any downside to writing and enforcing more laws.

      1. I’m so very pleased that you have drawn the correct conclusion from this object lesson. 🙂

    2. Incidentally, please note that this was in 2005, some time before there were various “continuing education” courses being offered by private consultants that essentially taught as a first principle of “shoot first” and “officer safety.”

      As recently as thirty years ago police officers generally had no problem “mixing it up” with a belligerent “suspect.” By 2005 a cop has a problem with some under 21-yr-old whitebread college students drinking beer in a stadium parking lot and pulls his gun.

      Something happened in the 1990s that turned cops into a bunch of pussies.

      1. Off the top of my head, to the degree that there was a change (see paragraph 2), it probably wasn’t the 90s, it was 9/11. Specifically, a lot of returning soldiers becoming cops and not getting properly de-militarized? and the new military assets that were suddenly made available (if not outright pushed on) local police forces.

        That said, I’m skeptical that there actually has been a change, rather then a change in how often it’s caught. Just like Rodney King didn’t show that cops had changed, just that they were getting caught, I have no reason to believe current issues are new rather then newly exposed.

        The fact that police forces absolutely refuse to release accurate data on how often they shoot people, and have for decades, is (to me) a red flag.

  16. In Bradford’s case, authorities have yet to reveal evidence suggesting he posed a threat to police or innocent bystanders.

    Let’s go ahead and take innocent bystanders out of the equation right now. The police were only concerned with their own safety, and would shoot each other if they thought it was the only way they would survive to collect the overtime for doing the paperwork on the shooting.

    1. LOL this.

  17. Seems to fuel the argument that guns are useless to defend vs. violence.

    1. I’m not sure how government agents inappropriately using force against civilians is evidence that the government should disarm all civilians.

      1. The argument in question is “carrying a gun is an effective strategy to protect your person”.

        Regardless of rights and what should happen, police slayings of armed civilians hurts that argument, as carrying a gun directly lead to the person’s death.

        Or to put it another way… a woman should be able to wear as short of a dress as she likes, get as drunk as she wants, and go walking through a dark park alone in the middle of the night in said short dress while completetly shit-faced. But practically speaking, she shouldn’t.

        Similarly, while a person should be able to carry a gun for self-defense and pull it out in scenarios where it seems called for (such as an active shooter situation), practically such actions increase the risk of being murdered by the police.

        It has nothing to do with rights and an ideal world, and everything to do with the reality that rights don’t stop bullets.

        1. There are actually several instances of mass killings being halted by armed citizens. If you read through these stories, some common threads emerge:
          * The armed citizen was able to recognize and confront only the killer and not other innocent persons.
          * The armed citizen stopped the killer from killing any more people.
          * No innocent person was shot or killed by the armed citizen.
          * Multiple armed citizens did not fire upon each other and upon innocent bystanders.
          * When police arrived, they were able to distinguish between the killer and the armed citizen.

          None of the gun control fantasies about killers and armed citizens have actually taken place. Yet, gun control activists keep making up these fantasies.

          Here is just one example where armed citizens took down a criminal without anyone else getting hurt:

          Armed Citizen Puts Down Bad Guy In Washington State

        2. Kingsport Tennessee area: we have had instances over the years of citizens holding burglars at gun point for arrest by responding officers and the cops did not shoot the homeowners.

          Might have a lot to do with political and police attitudes toward gun owners in the different jurisdictions.

  18. At least he wasn’t shot for brandishing a cell phone.

  19. Golly. Looks like the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a whole bunch of good guys with guns coming in and blasting everyone who’s carrying anything that looks like (maybe) a gun. Whodathunk it.

    1. I mean seriously. Thank God the guy was black and named Emetic. That’s kinda the black equivalent of a boy named Sue isn’t it? Otherwise the Hoover boys would have some real splaining to do to the parents of JimmyJoeBob.

      1. Emetic makes me want to throw up.

        1. Lol that’s what I was thinking.

          Wasn’t the name Emmitt?

  20. “Brandishing” means whatever the police want it to mean so they can justify doing whatever they want. I saw a police stop video in which an officer asks a man out of his vehicle. The man has a license to carry concealed (open carry is prohibited in that state) and he has his firearm in a holster under his shirt. The officer tells him to place his hands on the roof of the car. Lifting his hands causes his shirt to rise to the point that the officer can see the firearm. The officer calls that “brandishing” because he can see the weapon, and proceeds to arrest the man for obeying all given orders and being forced to reveal his firearm. The moral of this story … cops are scum that will do anything to justify oppressing the people they are sworn to protect.

    1. In Alabama there is no law concerning brandishing a firearm/weapon. I checked for “brandishing in Tennessee” and there is no law on “brandishing” here; there is:

      39-13-101. Assault.
      (a) A person commits assault who:
      (1) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
      (2) Intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or
      (3) Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.

      39-13-102. Aggravated assault.
      (a) A person commits aggravated assault who:
      (1) Intentionally or knowingly commits an assault as defined in ? 39-13-101 and:
      (A) Causes serious bodily injury to another; or
      (B) Uses or displays a deadly weapon; or ….

      Tennessee Constitution Article I declaration of rights, Section 26 says the citizens of this state have the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. Generally a person presenting an arm (gun, knife, bat, walking cane, tire tool, big rock, etc., any object used as a weapon of offense or defense) in a manner intended to intimidate, threaten, or present a threat of bodily injury and/or death can be charged with aggravated assault. Bright line diff: having a gun is not an assault, pointing it at someone is aggravated assault, unless it is justified in self-defense.

      1. There are jurisdictions that have “brandishment” laws. Tennessee handgun carry permit is for open or concealed, so there is no possibility that I could be charged for violating concealed carry due to an accidental reveal which is a common BS charge in jurisdictions with “brandishment” laws.

        Use of a gun in self-defense must be under circumstances where a reasonable person would be in fear of imminent death or greivous bodily harm if they did not act immediately. If I shot someone who had a gun in hand not pointed at anyone with their back to me walking away, I’d expect to be criminally charged. If you need to use arms in self defense, even if no one is injuried, you must be the first to report the incident to the police. Two common law rules kick in: (a) the first to report is seen as the victim and (b) the one who flees is assumed to be the guilty party. That may work out differently in a hearing, but that’s the police assumption.

  21. BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
    O.K. What’s going on here?
    / Police

  22. I have to wonder if its going to take lots of civilians returning fire against dumbass trigger-happy cops before this situation changes. I mean, I cannot imagine this is going to turn out well for the blue-belly goonsquad when all is said and done….

    1. Why would that change anything? When it’s happened before the person inevitably gets killed (because there are always going to be more cops), it’s written up as a tragedy, gets settled, and nothing changes.

  23. Do Alabama Police Who Killed the Wrong Man Know What ‘Brandished’ Means?

    Easy, “reached for his waistband” or “furtive movement” or “holding”.

  24. Of course, there’s a big difference between brandishing a gun and simply holding it in one’s hand.

    Writes the person apparently unaware of Alabama’s educational standards and performance.

    You figure backwater police officers from America’s J trap could spell, define, or understand ‘brandish?’

    1. Ahhh Regionalism…. how very progressive of you Rev.

      Instead of bashing just the cops you prefer to shit on everyone in the state?

      Thank God cop on black crimes only happen in the Deep South, right?

  25. “What kind of bootlicking busybodies spend their spare time…” We all know what kind. Incels with narcissistic rage at a lack of supply. If they spent their time working on improving their job skills, they’d probably make enough money to attract someone or at least rent the desired GFE gratifications

  26. “What kind of bootlicking busybodies spend their spare time…” We all know what kind. Incels with narcissistic rage at a lack of supply. If they spent their time working on improving their job skills, they’d probably make enough money to attract someone or at least rent the desired GFE gratifications

  27. “good BLACK guy with a gun”…hence why they both were shot by the cops…

  28. In any encounter involving a legally armed citizen, the police are a bigger threat than any perpetrator. The perp’s motives are usually clear and understood. Who knows what the cops are thinking, other than that they are predisposed to shoot first and ask questions later?if they ask questions at all?

  29. Definition of Brandish a Weapon from the National Police manual: a person that has a weapon on their person or within reach of their person or within view of said person. Shoot first, ask questions later.

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  31. As a resident of Hoover (California transplant), I just need to say this – There have been unjustifiable police shootings all around this country between police and civilians that have even less provocation than this one. I am certainly not defending the officers involved – they were trigger happy and clearly had no idea how to handle their panic in a situation that demanded calm and rational decision-making. But to the people that are saying, “Oh, of course this happened – Alabama hates minorities and racist cops are everywhere and blah blah blah”, you are ignoring and minimizing the fact that this is a nationwide (dare I say) epidemic and has sadly very little to do with geography.

  32. As a resident of Hoover (California transplant), I just need to say this – There have been unjustifiable police shootings all around this country between police and civilians that have even less provocation than this one. I am certainly not defending the officers involved – they were trigger happy and clearly had no idea how to handle their panic in a situation that demanded calm and rational decision-making. But to the people that are saying, “Oh, of course this happened – Alabama hates minorities and racist cops are everywhere and blah blah blah”, you are ignoring and minimizing the fact that this is a nationwide (dare I say) epidemic and has sadly very little to do with geography.

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