By Kim Chandler / The Associated Press
Galleria Mall protestors
HOOVER, AL — The father of a Black man killed by a police officer during a shooting at an Alabama mall said his son had a permit to carry a gun for self-defense, adding it was hurtful police initially portrayed his son as the shooter. Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., 21, was fatally shot by the officer responding to the Thanksgiving night shooting that wounded an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old female bystander. Hoover police initially said they thought Bradford, who was carrying a handgun, was responsible but later retracted that statement. They subsequently said it was unlikely that Bradford had done the shooting. Bradford’s father, Emantic Bradford Sr., speaking Saturday night with The Associated Press, said the family wants to know if there is police body camera footage from the shooting. Police have not confirmed to AP whether such footage exists. Hoover Police Captain Gregg Rector said investigators now believe that more than two people were involved in the initial fight ahead of the shooting, and that “at least one gunman” is still at large who could be responsible. Police said while Bradford Jr. “may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that wounded the 18-year-old victim.” Rector said police regret that their initial statement about Bradford was not accurate and added the shooting remains under investigation. About 200 demonstrators marched Saturday evening through the Riverchase Galleria mall in suburban Birmingham. Bradford’s father called his son “a good kid, a very good kid.” Bradford Sr. said his son had a permit to carry a weapon in self-defense. He said he doesn’t know exactly what happened at the mall but added: “They were so quick to rush to judgment. … I knew my son didn’t do that. People rushed to judgment. They shouldn’t have done that.” Hoover police said Friday morning that the girl was in stable condition.