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 former Mesa, Arizona, police officer has been charged with second-degree murder in the January 2016 shooting death of an unarmed man.
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.
Brailsford, who had previously been accused of using inappropriate force during an arrest just weeks before the shooting, was fired by the Mesa Police Department after he was charged. He made his first court appearance on March 15 and pleaded not guilty. He was released without bail.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Shaver Begged ‘Please Don’t Shoot Me’ Before He Was Killed, a Witness Says
Daniel Shaver begged for his life before he was shot by Philip Brailsford, according to reports released by Mesa Police on March 29.
Shaver said “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.
The supplemental report released by police can be read below or by clicking here:
You can read the rest of the documents police have released from the case below or by clicking here:
They have also released 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.
Read more about Daniel Shaver at the link below:
2. Brailsford Was One of the Department’s First Officers to Wear a Body Camera – But the Footage From the Shooting Hasn’t Been Released
Brailsford was one of the first Mesa Police officers to be given a body camera, which he received as a rookie in 2013.
He talked to the Arizona Republic about the camera in 2013, saying, “I definitely think there is a benefit to start out with this so young. It’s like learning a new tool right off the bat. I’m excited to use it. I’ll be able to go through a call and see what I did wrong — basically better myself.”
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.
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.
Sweet has set-up a GoFundMe account.
“She wants the body cam (footage) released just so everyone can see how ridiculous and outrageous this is,” Geragos, her attorney, told reporters.
3.’You’re F*cked’ Was Inscribed Onto the Gun Brailsford Used in the Shooting, Which Was a Violation of Policy
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.
4. His Father Was a Lieutenant in the Mesa PD’s Internal Affairs Unit
Brailsford’s father, also named Philip Brailsford, left the Mesa Police Department last year to join a local law firm. He was a lieutenant and had worked in the department’s Internal Affairs Unit.
According to a press release from the law firm where he now works, Fennemore Craig, the elder Brailsford was a police officer for 19 years, and also served in Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Army.
He graduated from Arizona State’s law school.
5. He Is Married & Pursued an Acting Career Before Becoming a Cop
Brailsford previously sought acting jobs before he became a police officer, according to a profile on Casting360.com.
He listed his interests as “motorcycle riding, football, hunting, target shooting,” said he is a guitar player with experience in a band, and is an Eagle Scout.
Brailsford’s wife, Corrine, was with him during his first court appearance.
“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.
Mehrens also told ABC 15 that his client is being judged based on a split-second decision that was made by a man who had been drinking and ignored polcie orders.
“They are not to be judge with 20/20 hindsight,” Mehrens told the news station.