UPDATE: Former Mesa, Arizona, police officer Philip Brailsford was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter on December 8, 2017, in the shooting of 26-year-old Daniel Shaver, of Texas, who was killed at a motel in January 2016. Body camera footage of the shooting has been released. You can watch the video and read about the latest updates in the case here. You can read the original report below:
A unarmed Texas husband and father of two was fatally shot in January 2016 by a police officer who has now been fired and charged with second-degree murder.
Shaver was fatally shot on January 18 at about 9 p.m. at the La Quinta Inn. Officers had been called to the hotel after a report that a man was pointing a gun out of a window. Two pellet guns were found in Shaver’s room, and police said they were related to his pest control job. Shaver had been drinking with a woman and a man on the night of the shooting, police said.
Prosecutors have said Shaver tried to comply and didn’t do anything wrong.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Pleaded for the Officers Not to Shoot Him Before He Was Killed
Daniel Shaver begged for his life before he was shot by Philip Brailsford, according to reports released by Mesa Police on March 29.
Shaver told “please don’t shoot me,” and “please don’t shoot,” a witness and a transcription of police footage reveals.
Brailsford and other officers had instructed Shaver to crawl toward them with his hands in the air, according to police reports. They said he reached behind his back he would be shot. Brailsford said he opened fire after Shaver reached toward his waistline, possibly to pull up his shorts, according to police reports.
Brailsford told investigators he thought Shaver was trying to get a better firing position and when he reached backwards, the officer fired.
“So that’s when I assessed the threat. I fired my weapon, uh, five times,” Brailsford told investigators.
Police previously said Shaver was cooperative, but may have been confused by the officer’s directions because he had been drinking.
You can read more about Philip “Mitch” Brailsford and the case against him, and also see documents and other information released by police, at the link below:
2. He Was on a Business Trip & Had Pellet Guns in His Room for Work
According to his wife and police reports, Shaver was at the hotel on a business trip. Police were called after he and a man he met at the hotel allegedly pointed one of Shaver’s pellet guns out of the hotel window.
The 911 calls from the shooting, which can be heard below:
In the 911 calls, a hotel employee told dispatchers “we’ve got some scared people,” but no one was injured.
“A couple of the guests – I’m an employee – they’ve come to me and they’ve told me that somebody is pointing a rifle outside of one of the windows in our building,” the hotel staffer said.
The staffer then tells police they believe it is room 502, where Shaver was staying.
A woman and a man who were staying at the hotel told police they met Shaver in the hallway and went to his room to take shots of alcohol. While in the room, he took out a pellet gun and said it was his job to kill birds that get inside Walmart stores.
The woman told police Shaver and the other man were pointing the rifle outside the hotel window before police arrived, and she told them to stop because they were drunk.
3. He Is Survived by His Wife, Who Called Him Her ‘Best Friend’ & Their 2 Young Daughters
Shaver is survived by his wife, Laney Sweet, and their two daughters, Natalie, 6, and Emery, 4, she wrote on a GoFundMe page.
“He was my best friend. The love of my life. A son. A brother. Many people’s friend. The glue that held me together. He was madly in love with his two daughters. He sacrificed being away from his family for 25 days a month so he could provide for us, in hopes one day we could all be together all the time,” she wrote.
Sweet is planning a lawsuit against the city, police and the officers involved.
4. His Wife Is Fighting for Body Camera Footage of the Shooting to Be Released
The officer, Brailsford, was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting. But both the prosecutor and Brailsford’s attorney filed motions for the body camera footage to be sealed, KNXV-TV reports.
Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, who is represented by attorney Mark Geragos, is fighting for the video to be released. She said prosecutors offered to let her watch the video, but she would not have been allowed to talk to the media about it.
“I quickly realized that by watching the footage I was going to be silenced. I was told what I could and could not say. Ultimately, I was not allowed to watch the video. The (county attorney) made it very clear to me he would not allow the evidence/footage to be released publicly,” she said on Facebook, where she also posted video of her conversation with the county attorney.
“She wants the body cam (footage) released just so everyone can see how ridiculous and outrageous this is,” Geragos, her attorney, told reporters.
5. She Also Says Prosecutors Have Offered Brailsford a Deal That Would See Him Plead to a Lesser Charge
Shaver’s widow also said the prosecutor has offered Brailsford a plea deal that would reduce the charge to negligent homicide, which would carry a minimum sentence of probation and a maximum sentence of 3 and a 1/2 years in prison. The prosecutor has declined to comment on whether a deal has been put forward.
Brailsford shot Shaver with a personal AR-15 rifle, which he was allowed to use, according to police reports.
The gun was inscribed with the phrase “you’re f*cked,” Tucson News Now reports.
The inscription on the gun was a violation of department policy, which was one of the reasons Brailsford was fired.
“He is not a danger to the community,” his attorney, Craig Mehrens, told reporters after his first court appearance. “He has honorably served the community as a Mesa police officer and he was honorably serving the day he received the call [to the shooting scene].”
Mehrens previously said Brailsford was “in shock” after he was charged with murder and believes he did nothing wrong, according to the Arizona Republic.