Birmingham lawyer weighs in on impact of video in Bradford case

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Hoover city leaders will not release video related to the police shooting of E.J. Bradford, Jr. today, as they originally said they would. The city released a statement about it this morning.

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Previous information:

Hoover city leaders are expected to release video related to the shooting of E.J. Bradford, Jr. today at noon. CBS 42 spoke with Birmingham attorney Eric Guster for a look at how it might impact the case.

A Hoover police officer shot and killed Bradford on Thanksgiving night at the Riverchase Galleria mall while responding to a shooting that injured 18-year-old Brian Wilson and 12-year-old Molly Davis. Police initially identified Bradford as the shooting suspect but later retracted that statement, citing new evidence as the reason they no longer believed he was the actual shooter. 

Bradford’s family and lawyer Benjamin Crump have been calling for the release of video related to the shooting that killed the 21-year-old. Late last week, Hoover city leaders asked the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to release the video. The said if the agency chose not to do so, they would release themselves by noon today. They announced this morning that they will not be releasing. 

Guster says it’s a bold move for Hoover leaders to release the video, but he does not think it will affect ALEA’s case in any way.

“Within the week-and-a-half that ALEA has had the information, they should have had enough time to conduct any interviews that they need to conduct,” Guster said. “And being that it’s only the videos that they’re asking for and those others types of evidence, it shouldn’t impact their investigation at all.”

Guster says there can be a number of reasons the law enforcement would not want to initially release video in a case like this, but he believes they’ve had time to do all the necessary interviews. He also believes that Hoover leaders are choosing to release the video in the interest of transparency.

“It’s one of those situations where (they’re saying), ‘Let me show you everything I have, and then you can be mad about it, but you have everything that we have,'” he said. “And that’s very important because, at this point, we don’t know all the details. There’s some speculation. And Hoover wants the public to know everything, and then we’ll debate about it and disagree about it, perhaps.”

Guster says it’s also wise to go ahead and release the video because of the amount of other video that’s likely already out there. It prevents Hoover leaders from appearing that they’re covering something up.

“We also must keep in mind is that, outside of the body cams, there are thousands of cameras that were at the Galleria,” he said. “There are people with camera phones who shot video of the aftermath of this incident. So it’s not like a big secret, but exactly what happened leading up to this young man’s death – that’s what everyone wants to know.”

At this point, Guster says the City of Hoover likely already has lawyers in place, and they’ve had a week-and-a-half to formulate any defense they feel is necessary. 

“That’s why Hoover wants to make sure: let’s get this information out there. The facts are what they are,” Guster said. “And then let’s talk about whether we want to settle this case or fight this case, or really let’s just get a healing process with both sides regardless of what happened because the facts are the facts, and that’s what the video is going to show.”

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