A jury in Arizona has cleared a former police officer of murder charges in the shooting death of an unarmed man. Police were responding to an emergency call that a man was pointing a gun out of a hotel window.
The verdict cleared Philip Brailsford of criminal liability in the shooting death of Daniel Shaver, a married father of two from Granbury, Texas. Brailsford was facing a second-degree murder charge.
Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, shook her head, motioning “no” after the jury’s decision, and told reporters she wasn’t going to answer any questions, according to the New York Daily News.
The shooting occurred in January 2016, after Mesa police responded to reports that someone in the Phoenix suburb was pointing a gun out the window of La Quinta Inn. Shaver was unarmed, although police later found two pellet rifles inside his hotel room. They were related to his pest-control job.
In March 2016, Mesa police published a report about the shooting, which included 911 calls and other materials but not body camera video from the scene. Body camera footage released in December showed responding officers screaming at Shaver to exit his hotel room and lie face-down in the hallway.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who charged Brailsford with murder in March, said the shooting was unjustified use of deadly force and the officer was reckless.
According to two witnesses who were staying at the La Quinta Inn, a man and a woman drank shots with Shaver in his room when he showed them his pellet guns. The man pointed the guns out the window, causing other hotel guests to call the police, according to the Arizona Republic.
When police arrived they had Shaver and the woman exit the room, ordered them to the floor, and told them to crawl towards them. While Shaver was crawling, he motioned to his waistline.
A detective in investigating the shooting said while it looked as if Shaver were reaching for a gun. It also appeared that he was attempting to pull up his sagging shorts. Officer Brailsford responded by shooting him five times, according to KPNX.
A transcript from body camera footage released by police confirmed a statement by a witness that Shaver was saying “please don’t shoot me,” moments before Brailsford opened fire. Court records showed that Shaver might not have understood the orders from police due to intoxication at the time of his death.
Shaver’s widow and his parents have filed wrongful-death lawsuits against the city of Mesa over the shooting.