A jury recently acquitted in yet another case of an officer being charged with murder and manslaughter following a ‘questionable shooting.’ Philip Brailsford, a two-year veteran of the Mesa Police Department, was wearing a body camera that captured the January 18, 2016 shooting incident. The film has now been released to the public.
The graphic video shows officer Brailsford shooting an unarmed, pleading, and sobbing 26-year-old Daniel Shaver at an Arizona hotel. It’s release has flamed sparks of outrage and demands for law enforcement reform across social media and political arenas.
Chuck Wexler, director of the Police Executive Research Forum, has reviewed the footage; he says that the footage shows Shaver was not a threat and was doing everything he could to comply with officer demands.
Jan 18, 2016 in Mesa, Arizona at the La Quinta Inn and Suites: Six officers, including Brailsford, respond to calls that a man in the hotel has been seen through a window with a gun.
Shaver and a woman can initially be seen entering the fifth-floor hallway after being summoned out of their room by police. Officer Brailsford has an AR-15 riffle pointed at them as another officer directs the couple to the floor and warns that lacking to comply or making a mistake will get them shot. He shouts at Shaver: “If you move, we are going to consider that a threat, and we are going to deal with it, and you may not survive it.”
Meanwhile, Shaver can be heard saying, “I’m sorry” and “please don’t shoot me” as the officer issues demands that many are now calling contradictory.
At one point, Shaver is told not to put his hands down for any reason and that he will be shot if he disobeys. Shaver responds with, “yes, sir.”
Yet, the officer immediately contradicts the above demand by telling Shaver to “crawl towards me,” a feat that even a gymnast would have trouble doing without lowering their hands toward the floor first.
A few moments after Shaver makes his way to the ground and begins to crawl, he makes a slight twist to the right. Officer Brailsford responds by firing. The officer later testified in court that he shot five times.
While police officials who reviewed the footage agree that the movement is similar to that a person would make when reaching for a gun, they equally agree that it was also consistent with Shaver simply pulling the shorts up that were falling off him.
Witnesses testified that Shaver had been drinking. No weapons were found on him, however. The police later learned that the gun witnesses reported seeing was nothing more than a pest control pellet gun that Shaver had been showing off in the private confines of his own room.
Not admissible we’re facts like a threatened profanity Brailsford had etched into his weapon used in the shooting.
Officer Brailsford was terminated two months after the shooting. Following his trial, the jury deliberated less than six hours to reach an acquittal.
Ironically, this case’s acquittal was reached the same day that a South Carolina judge issued a 20-year prison term to a white officer in the civilian shooting death of Walter L. Scott, a black motorist.
Mark Geragos, attorney for Shaver’s widow and two young children, calls the shooting the most “horrific” of his career and points to it as evidence of the criminal justice system at its worst.
Officer Brailsford’s attorney, Michael Piccarreta, is satisfied with the trial results and told interviewers that his client’s actions were consistent with his police training and that the public’s “vitriolic anger” might be calmed a bit once privy to all the information. Such hasn’t been the case, though.
Celebrities, experts, activists, and the general public alike are continuing to take to the internet to let their outrage over the incident and the verdict be known.