By JAY REEVES, Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Gunshots that wounded two people and sparked the fatal Thanksgiving day police shooting of a black man in a shopping mall erupted from an “ongoing thing” between people who knew each other, the lawyer for a suspect said Wednesday.
Charles Salvagio, an attorney representing Erron Brown, who is charged with attempted murder in the gunfire, told a news conference his client did not start the violence.
“This was not a random thing,” said Salvagio, who declined to elaborate.
Brown’s mother, Ebony Brown, offered condolences to relatives of Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., the man killed by police, and said she stands by her son.
“His name will be cleared,” she said.
Brown’s defense offered new details on the holiday melee on the same day that a judge ruled prosecutors must turn over evidence, possibly including police video of the fatal shooting itself. Salvagio predicted the video will show “very clearly” that Brown wasn’t the instigator.
The judge ruled in response to Brown’s request for evidence including “all videos of the incident,” but exactly how much will be released to the defense could still be up to a judge to decide.
One thing is certain: No video will be made public immediately, despite the demands of Bradford’s family and demonstrators who have staged near daily protests since his killing at the Riverchase Galleria, Alabama’s largest mall, in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover.
Brown, 20, is charged in a shooting that wounded Brian Xavier Wilson, 18, of Birmingham. A 12-year-old girl also was shot in the back, but no one has been charged with wounding her.
Within seconds of the first shot, an officer fatally wounded Bradford after seeing him at the scene with a weapon, authorities have said. Police at first blamed Bradford for the shooting but then backtracked and arrested Brown near Atlanta last week after a manhunt.
Brown’s lawyer said he is not guilty. He is jailed in Birmingham with bond set at $125,000, and his mother said it was difficult seeing her son behind bars.
“He was just a loving kid and still is. That’s my heart,” said Ebony Brown.
Salvagio wouldn’t go into details on how Brown was acquainted with others who were at the mall that night, but he said everyone involved in the confrontation knew each other.
Bradford died of three gunshot wounds to the back of his head, neck and torso, according to a forensic report commissioned by his family. Authorities have said an unnamed officer shot him after seeing a gun, which relatives say Bradford had a permit to carry legally.
Demonstrators have staged protests at the mall and other locations in Hoover. On Tuesday night, they briefly shut down Interstate 459 near the shopping center.
This story has been corrected; some references to Bradford were misspelled.