The family of a Waco man who was shot and killed by Waco police last week as they tried to serve a narcotics search warrant called Thursday for Waco police to step down from investigating the matter and to turn it over to an independent agency.
The family of Kerry Demars Bradley also claim that police fired 37 shots, striking Bradley 22 times, before SWAT officer William Graeber, an eight-year police veteran, was struck by Bradley’s GMC Yukon and pinned under the vehicle.
Bradley’s wife, mother and aunt were joined by about 30 supporters and members of the Next Generation Action Network and America’s Choice for the Discerning Citizen groups at a press conference Thursday morning at the Yes Lord Destiny Center, 1512 N. 15th St.
Grand Prairie resident Dominique R. Alexander, founder and president of NGAN, said he and other groups are calling for justice in the shooting death of Bradley, who police officials say was a heroin dealer.
Kim T. Cole, an attorney for NGAN, also promised a lawsuit on behalf of the family would be forthcoming.
Alexander said his group of supporters have a video recording of the Aug. 1 incident that shows officers firing into Bradley’s SUV before the officer was injured. Waco police have said they stopped the 37-year-old Bradley before he reached his home, where they intended to execute a search warrant for drugs.
Police have said Bradley intentionally ran over Graeber in an attempt to avoid going to jail. Graeber suffered three broken ribs, a broken pelvis, a broken collarbone, a collapsed lung, a concussion and burns to his arm after he was run over and pinned beneath the SUV. His condition continues to improve, police officials said.
Alexander and others in the group Thursday claimed Bradley had one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the gear shift when police opened fire. He said after Bradley was hit, he lost control of the SUV, and the officer was run over.
“We know all of the facts surrounding the death of Kerry Bradley. We know the narrative that the Waco Police Department has put out regarding the death of Kerry Bradley. We know there are a bunch of excuses toward this matter, and this organization will work along with other social groups who do not feel the death of Kerry Bradley was justice.
“We feel this was an egregious act by the Waco Police Department. They murdered Kerry Bradley. A man in America shot 22 times will never be justice. It can never be justified.”
Despite Alexander’s claims that witnesses are in possession of a video of the incident, he and Cole said they would not release the video until they can ensure the safety of witnesses and conduct their own investigation.
Alexander claims Waco police have intimidated witnesses and threatened to confiscate their cellphones. They declined to give specific examples of their witness intimidation claims.
Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said Thursday that the Texas Rangers and the Special Crimes Unit of the Waco Police Department are conducting a joint investigation of the incident. Their findings will be turned over to the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office for presentation to a grand jury.
“It is a co-investigation,” Swanton said. “But we don’t tell (Rangers) what to do and how to do their jobs. They work independently but are working together with us on this investigation. But they are an outside agency, and if they see wrongdoing, we have the utmost confidence that they would say that. You would be hard-pressed to find anybody that does not trust the Texas Rangers.”
There was a building full on Thursday. Alexander said he thinks Waco police and the Texas Rangers are too closely aligned for it to be considered an independent investigation.
Swanton said Waco police and the Texas Rangers encourage anyone with video or who witnessed the incident to come forward.
“None have done this, so far,” Swanton said.
Three officers who fired shots that day remain on “administrative light duty,” Swanton said, adding that is routine procedure pending the investigations.
Alexander, who has conducted press conferences in other cities where police have killed black suspects, said he is disappointed that Waco Police Chief Ryan Holt has not returned his phone call. He said his group wants to meet with Holt to get answers and to try to unify the community.
Holt said in a statement Thursday that “any death, regardless of the circumstances, is a tragedy.”
“As I have said before, I ask that the thoughts and prayers of the community be with the Bradley family as they grieve their loss and with Officer Graeber and his family as they move through a lengthy recovery.
“We will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation being conducted by the Texas Rangers and the Special Crimes Unit. It would be inappropriate and premature for me to comment on the status of the investigation before it is presented to the District Attorney’s Office,” Holt wrote. “The Waco Police Department will continue to work closely with local community leaders to make Waco a safe place for all its residents.”
The group at the press conference, including Bradley’s wife, Brittany Bradley, said they are angry at police and the media, who they say portrayed Kerry Bradley as a criminal and drug dealer because of his criminal past. Brittany Bradley also lamented the fact that a fund has been established to help defray Graeber’s medical expenses while nothing has been done to help pay for her husband’s funeral.
“Kerry Bradley was called every name but a child of God,” Alexander said. “He was a man who was loved by his family, his friends, his community. Kerry Bradley’s past was behind him. He had a past. Everybody has a past.
“But those three seconds that the Waco Police Department shot all 30-something rounds, it was not about Kerry Bradley’s past. It was about the Waco PD wanting to murder a black man and the value of a black man in America. We say enough is enough and we want justice.”
Before they spoke, supporters posted signs that said, “We Want Justice,” “All Lives Matter,” “RIP Kerry Bradley,” and “Black Lives Matter.”
“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future,” Cole said. “Kerry Bradley was not a saint in his past, but the media keeps focusing on his past as if it makes him less valuable as a human being. Kerry Bradley was a human being and, as such, he is entitled to due process. You are not supposed to act as judge, jury and executioner.”
Swanton declined to discuss evidence in the case, including how many shots were fired at the scene. He also declined to discuss reports that police found more than a dozen capsules of heroin in Bradley’s vehicle. Family members said Thursday that no drugs were found in the SUV and that police never executed the search warrant at Bradley’s home.
Family members say they know how many times Bradley was shot because a funeral home employee viewed the body.
Ernest Walker of America’s Choice for the Discerning Citizen wore a T-shirt under his coat that said, “There is no such thing as a lesser person.” He said it is important for the Waco Police Department to back out of the investigation and turn it over to an independent agency. He suggested the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the search warrant affidavit, officers suspected Bradley of selling heroin out of two cars and a home in the 3200 block of North 24th Street and had been investigating him for at least two months.
Court records indicate a police informant bought heroin from Bradley at least six times before police obtained the warrants.
Services for Bradley will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Carver Park Baptist Church.