Shaver, a married father of two young children, was unarmed and begged for his life in the moments before he was shot, sobbing and saying to Brailsford and the other officers, “please don’t shoot me.”
The video, which was seen by the jury, was made public after Brailsford was found not guilty of second-degree murder and reckless manslaughter by a Maricopa County jury on Thursday, the Arizona Republic reports. It was posted online by the attorney for Shaver’s wife, Laney Sweet, who is suing the Mesa Police Department for $75 million and had been fighting for the release of the video.
You can watch the video below. The shooting occurs just after the 16-minute mark of the video.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT AHEAD
“That’s an execution pure and simple. The Justice system miserably failed Daniel and his family,” Sweet’s attorney, Mark Geragos, said about the video and the not guilty verdict.
Sweet wrote on Facebook, “Philip Brailsford was found not guilty on all counts in the killing of Daniel Shaver. Watch this video of this execution and tell me how it was justified.”
The video shows an intoxicated Shaver, who was staying at the motel while on a work trip and had been drinking with two people he had met earlier that night, being ordered to crawl out of the room after police responded to a report of a man pointing a gun out of the room’s window. It was later determined that Shaver had a pellet gun in the room for his pest control job, but he did not have it with him in the hallway at the time Brailsford shot him. The two motel guests who were in the room testified that Shaver had been playing with the pellet gun near the room’s window earlier.
The other two guests exited the room at the command of police prior to the shooting.
In the video, Shaver is told by an officer, Sergeant Charles Langley, to obey his commands and “not make a mistake” after he exits the room and gets down face-first on the floor. Brailsford is next to Langley with his gun pointed at Shaver. Langley tells Shaver to keep his legs crossed and then put both of his hands out in front of him and then pull himself up into a kneeling position. As he struggles to get to his knees, the officer yells, “I said keep your legs crossed.” Shaver then apologizes and the officer says, “I didn’t say this was a conversation.”
He then yells at Shaver to put his hands up in the air, as Shaver appears confused by the commands. “You do that again, we’re shooting you,” the officer screams. Shaver begs the officer not to shoot him.
“If you think you’re going to fall you better fall on your face. Your hands go to the small of your back, we are going to shoot you,” the officer yells, before screaming for Shaver to crawl toward him.
Shaver’s hand then moves and Brailsford opens fire. The other officers in the hallway did not fire on Shaver. He was shot five times. Prosecutors said Shaver appeared to be attempting to pull up his shorts.
Brailsford’s attorney, Michael Piccarreta told the Arizona Republic, “We had confidence that the jury would recognize this as a tragedy, not a murder, and that Mitch Brailsford acted in a split-second as he was trained.”
Brailsford argued that he shot because he thought Shaver was reaching for a weapon.
The Mesa Police Department fired Brailsford in March 2016.
Langley has since retired.
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.”
Brailsford shot Shaver with a personal AR-15 rifle, which he was allowed to use, according to police reports. A photo released by the Mesa Police Department last year showed that Brailsford had the inscription, “You’re f*cked” on his rifle.
The inscription on the gun was a violation of department policy, which was one of the reasons Brailsford was fired. But the inscription was not allowed to be entered as evidence after a judge ruled it to be prejudicial.
Brailsford’s father, also named Philip Brailsford, left the Mesa Police Department in 2015 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.
Brailsford had been on trial since October. Deputy County Attorney Susie Charbel called him a “killer” who tried to cover up the shooting, according to the Arizona Republic. She said Shaver was “pathetic” as he struggled to comply with the officers’ commands.
“(Brailsford) doesn’t get a pass because he was wearing a police uniform that night,” Charbel told the jury in her closing argument.
Brailsford’s attorney told the jury that his client might not have been trained properly, but that was not his fault.
“The last thing in the world that Mitch Brailsford wanted to do that night was shoot. His goal wasn’t to kill Daniel Shaver,” Piccarreta told the jury, the newspaper report. “Shaver is not a bad person, but his actions are what brought the police that night.”
Shaver, of Granbury, Texas, is survived by his wife, Laney Sweet, and their two young daughters, Natalie, who was 6 when her father was shot, and Emery, then-4, she wrote on a GoFundMe page. Shaver worked for a pest control company and was often on the road. His company was contracted by Walmart to kill birds, rodents and other animals inside stores.
“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 had been fighting for the video to be released since her husband’s death. But Brailsford’s attorney had argued it should not be released because it could mean his client wouldn’t get a fair trial, and a judge agreed. Some body camera footage of the moments leading up to the shooting was released previously.
Sweet has been active on social media, running a Facebook page called “Justice for Daniel” and encouraging people to attempt the “Daniel Shaver Challenge” by trying to follow the commands shouted at her husband before he was shot.
“We just started with the idea like I think it would be good to challenge people who have never read the transcript to try and film themselves following the commands, to see if they can keep up with them and if it makes sense to other people,” Sweet told Fox 10 Phoenix last year. “It was a comply or die situation, they didn’t give him a chance.
Sweet said she has been trying to raise awareness about the case.
“It means putting myself out there and making a silly challenge video so people will get it trending to raise awareness, then I think I can do it for my children’s sake who have lost their father,” Sweet told the news station.
On Facebook last month, Sweet wrote about an experience she had with Brailsford in a courtroom. She made her post after hearing the former officer testify that he felt “sad” after the shooting because he figured Shaver had a family:
This is the same family that he couldn’t even say, “I’m sorry.” to one year ago. Instead, he walked away with the little smirk that he always has on his face and made some awkward laugh under his breath as he walked away from us. As if to say, “I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m right.”
But he knows inside. Regardless of what happens, he will have to live with that for the rest of his life. They can (and did) put their defense case on and they know 96-97% of the time officers are not convicted for taking the lives of citizens they are supposed to protect.
What does that mean for my family? How do we heal from this without justice, or at the very least empathy and remorse? I’ve done everything I can do to fight for my husband. For almost two years I’ve fought relentlessly, while navigating intense grief for me and my two young children who don’t understand why their dad is gone forever.
You can read more about Philip Brailsford, along with previously released document and audio, at the link below: