Robert Bradley was an outdoorsman, business owner and aspiring pilot who lived life to the fullest and brightened a room with his presence, according to friends and family.
About 40 of Bradley’s loved ones and even strangers gathered to honor and remember his 41 years of life Tuesday night at Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane for a candlelight vigil. Bradley was killed by Spokane police exactly one month ago Tuesday night in the Hillyard neighborhood.
Brian Pierce, a friend of Bradley’s, recited words from himself and Bradley’s loved ones. Pierce said Bradley was killed by police on his own property and was not committing a crime.
“Robert did not deserve this,” Pierce said. “He had many goals and dreams, and he was deprived of the opportunity to achieve them.”
Two Spokane police officers, Detective Trevor Walker and Cpl. Chris Johnson, fired at Bradley, according to a Spokane Independent Investigative Response Team news release. They are on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in an officer shooting.
A recording from neighbor Amber Morse’s home security shows officers firing shots within 3 seconds of announcing their presence in the backyard of 2933 E. Wabash Ave. Another round of shots is fired a few seconds later as officers continue to shout orders.
Court documents said three officers arrived on scene at about 10 p.m. and contacted Bradley in the backyard and driveway of the residence. The court records said officers ordered Bradley to stop digging through the inside of the vehicle. Bradley then emerged from the van and gunfire ensued.
“It was extremely wrong what happened,” said Morse, who lives in a home just north of the alley she shared with Bradley and his finacée.
“They snuck up on him,” Morse said. “He didn’t even have time to realize what was happening before he was dead. There was no (cop) cars until after he was shot, and then cops came from everywhere.”
Police arrived at Bradley’s home at the request of a neighbor who had moved into the home next door a couple of weeks before the shooting.
Scott Scott, the new neighbor, had been feuding with Bradley over their property from the moment he bought his home. Things escalated into a physical altercation at one point when Bradley flashed a handgun at him and his young son after they moved in, Scott said.
Police recommended Scott get an anti-harassment order against Bradley, which he signed along with another neighbor.
In an effort to have Bradley served with the anti-harassment order, Scott notified police around 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 that Bradley was at his home and appeared to be moving firearms from his van.
Spokane police believed Bradley to be armed when they arrived, according to an initial report from the department.
Morse said Bradley was “simply unloading his van” after a camping trip that weekend.
Investigators recovered three guns from the “immediate area where the shooting occurred,” the news release said.
Bradley’s oldest son, 16-year-old Ryan, lit the first candle during the vigil Tuesday and the rest of the attendees walked up to light their candles as soft, sorrowful music played. Some shed tears.
A black and white sign, “HONORING LIFE TAKEN TOO SOON,” hung behind Pierce. Lights reflected the words “ROBERT BRADLEY SHOULD STILL BE ALIVE TODAY” on the wall of the park’s Visitor Center.
Bradley’s father, Rolland Hood, wrote that his son lived life on his own terms.
“He was not rebelling against anything or anyone,” Hood wrote. “He was a free spirit who lived in the present. He was a dreamer. He was a leader.”
Hood wrote Bradley had many plans for the future, and “he would have made those dreams come true.”
He also said Bradley was not breaking the law when he was shot.
“I look forward to seeing you again when the time comes,” Hood wrote.
Sarah McLaughlin, Bradley’s fiancée, said he was selfless and talented. He wore his heart on his sleeve and would help anyone, she wrote.
“She will never forget all of their outdoor adventures together and his perfect smile,” Pierce read.
Kay Capps, Bradley’s aunt, wrote that he was funny, kind and a hard worker. She asked that people don’t take their loved ones for granted.
“Don’t think you can just pick up the phone and call them tomorrow,” Capps wrote. “Tomorrow may never come.”
Like Morse, many have given their sides of the events leading up to and including the shooting.
In a public Facebook comment, McLaughlin said his hands were empty when they shot him.
The two had been at Pig out in the Park just a couple of hours before the shooting, according to Morse.
“From sitting in the grass eating truck food to dead in an hour. I still can not process the fact we will never see him again,” McLaughlin said in another Facebook post. “I will never live the same. He did not deserve this.”
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting.
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