A former Arizona police officer was acquitted of second-degree murder charges Thursday, stemming from the fatal shooting of an unarmed man who could be seen on body camera footage pleading for his life in the moments before he was killed.
Former Mesa police Officer Phillip “Mitch” Brailsford was found not guilty in the 2016 shooting of Daniel Shaver, a married father-of-two from Texas, AZ Central reported. It took the jury only six hours to clear Brailsford of all charges, including the lesser count of reckless manslaughter.
The incident at the heart of the rail occurred on January 18, 2016, at a La Quinta Inn & Suites hotel in Mesa. Police had responded to a call concerning a person pointing a gun outside of a fifth-floor window, while another couple reported seeing a silhouette with a gun pointing it down a hallway.
When officers arrived, they had Shaver get down on his knees and crawl toward the officers. A witness claimed that he reached toward his basketball shorts with his right hand because they were falling down, but Brailsford interpreted the gesture as Shaver reaching for a handgun and fired five rounds, killing him.
“If this situation happened exactly as it did that time, I would have done the same thing,” Brailsford said in his testimony.
Brailsford’s lawyer, Michael Piccarreta, framed Shaver’s death as “a tragedy, not a murder” and argued that “Mitch Brailsford acted in a split-second as he was trained.”
“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. “Shaver is not a bad person, but his actions are what brought the police that night.”