In a move that angered both civil rights advocates and 2nd Amendment supporters, a police officer who killed an innocent man at an Alabama mall on Thanksgiving will not be charged with a crime. Emantic Bradford, Jr., an army veteran and concealed carry permit holder, was shot three times and killed by a police officer at a mall in Hoover, Alabama. Bradford had drawn his concealed pistol and was attempting to help shooting victims when he was shot and killed by the officer.
Hoover authorities initially reported that Bradford had shot someone and was killed by police as he tried to flee, apparently being shot three times from behind. As eyewitness reports made it clear that Bradford was not involved in the shooting, authorities eventually changed their story and made it clear that the officer had made a mistake in shooting Bradford, thinking that because he was holding a gun he was the shooter. The actual shooter was arrested days later in Georgia and is now facing charges.
Alabama authorities have bent over backwards to clear the officer of wrongdoing, with the investigation into the case being taken over by the Alabama Attorney General’s office. Now that the officer has been cleared, authorities are not identifying his name. According to Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato, the officer is being treated as a private citizen and any private citizen cleared of charges would not have his name released. But if a private citizen had mistakenly shot an innocent person, would he also have been cleared of wrongdoing? No way.
While the fact that Bradford was a black man has tinged this incident with a racial character, it’s not hard to imagine that this would have happened had Bradford been white too. Many other people responding to a shooting would have seen a man with a gun in his hand and assumed he was the shooter. But that assumption was wrong and got a man killed. Shooting first and asking questions later is wrong, not to mention criminal. It may not rise to the level of murder, but surely it should merit manslaughter charges. Rather than holding the police to a higher standard than the populace, or even to the same standard, they are held to a lower standard, facing no charges whatsoever.
What has been incredibly disheartening about the whole situation is the number of conservatives who have defended the police and blamed Bradford for drawing his gun or failing to drop his gun when ordered to by police. If exercising a God-given right recognized by the Constitution will get you killed, then why even own a gun? If people truly believe that someone lawfully carrying and holding a gun is obligated to drop it when ordered to by police, and that failing to comply with that order is worthy of being killed, then we no longer live in a society ruled by law but rather in a police state.