If Monday’s release of an autopsy report in the Kerry Bradley case signifies anything, it’s that, for all the justifiable concerns of civil-rights advocates and minority communities nationwide concerning police violence victimizing African Americans, each allegation still has its own unique set of facts and circumstances. And the autopsy report in this case raises legitimate questions about allegations concerning a narcotics inquiry gone awry.
While both the family and advocates of Bradley, 37, allege he was shot 22 times by Waco police as officers tried to serve a narcotics search warrant in August, the autopsy report states he was actually shot six times. Bradley’s chief advocate, Next Generation Action Network president Dominique Alexander, says the family got its information about Bradley being shot 22 times from a funeral home mortician. The family also alleges that police fired on Bradley first.
Waco police offer a different story. They say that Bradley ran over SWAT officer William Graeber in an attempt to escape, an apparently frantic bid that left Graeber to suffer broken ribs, a shattered pelvis and collarbone, a collapsed lung, burns and a concussion. The search warrant affidavit indicates that police executed the warrant only after a two-month investigation in which an informant reportedly bought heroin from Bradley six times. The autopsy also states Bradley tested positive for marijuana.
It’s unfortunate the joint investigation into this case by Texas Rangers and Waco police now plays out over an unnecessary battle between President Trump, his followers and pro football players protesting police brutality visited on African Americans. The president’s ham-fisted aggravation of race relations complicates a specific situation that, to our thinking, is solely the business of NFL owners, players and fans. Given the devastation of three hurricanes, the prospect of nuclear war and a crushing national debt, you might think this president had better things to do than further divide his fellow Americans.
That said, those in our community mourning Bradley’s death and offering a more sympathetic account of his final moments should consider that restraint and measured statements can be a virtue, especially when new evidence creates fissures in at least some of what they contend. Add in antics such as causing enough of a disruption to shut down a City Council meeting and you’re on the road to undermining any credible claims you might have. Just like President Trump.
Regardless of how many bullets killed Bradley, let’s allow Rangers and police to continue their investigation. If findings are not released or are inconsistent with what Bradley’s advocates can actually prove (including through a videotape they claim to have), then would be the time to raise voices in protest. However, Waco police in the past have demonstrated little compassion for cops gone bad. They don’t want them on the force. And the significant outreach into local communities of color by Police Chief Ryan Holt and his predecessors is further indication police realize the gravity of fairly and honestly getting to the bottom of what happened in Bradley’s death.