NBC News reports that an ex-Arizona police officer has been acquitted of murder charges for shooting Daniel Shaver last year.
Shaver, from Texas, was shot by Philip Mitchell Brailsford, who faced second-degree murder chargers. Brailsford is no longer employed as an officer in Mesa, Arizona. The maximum sentence he faced was 25 years.
Bodycam footage showed Shaver crying and holding his hands in the air before he was fatally shot. Brailsford’s defense attorney stated that there were no winners in the case, and that he made a split second decision thinking the victim was pulling a weapon.
Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, and Shaver’s parents have already filed a wrongful death civil suit against Mesa.
The shooting occurred on January 18, 2016 at a Mesa hotel. Shaver, 26, was employed as a pest controller and was visiting the city on business. Shaver showed some acquaintances an air rifle used for birds and waved it from the fifth-floor room. A witness called the hotel, which called police. Authorities stated that Shaver had been drinking, and ordered him to lay down without making any movements or risk being shot.
Shaver asked police not to shoot him, then reached toward his waistband, which is when Brailsford believed he was reaching for a firearm and shot him.
No guns were found on Shaver’s person, but two pellet guns used for extermination were found in the hotel room.
Investigators agree that the action Shaver made looked like he was reaching for a weapon, but also represented him possibly trying to pull up his shorts when ordered to crawl by police. It was also noted in case records that there was nothing preventing officers from simply handcuffing Shaver.
Brailsford, 27, testified in court that he was afraid for the safety of law enforcement and a female witness who were present. He also expressed remorse for Shaver and his family.
Brailsford was an officer for the city for nearly two years prior to the shooting, and was fired two months afterward. Reasons noted for his firing included violations of departmental policy and unsatisfactory performance, says NBC.
*Photo credit Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office