A jury was expected to return its verdict late Thursday afternoon in the case of former Mesa police officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, who faces charges of second-degree murder in the 2016 killing of an unarmed Texas man who was on his knees begging for his life.
Jurors had begun deliberations on Wednesday.
That followed impassioned closing arguments that offered contrasting narratives of why Brailsford shot and killed 26-year-old Daniel Shaver in a hotel hallway two years ago.
Shaver was kneeling, crying and begging not to be shot after he was confronted by six Mesa police officers in La Quinta Inn & Suites hallway on Jan. 18, 2016. Brailsford, who was fired two months after the shooting, testified that he fired his AR-15 rifle five times because it appeared Shaver was reaching for a gun.
“If this situation happened exactly as it did that time, I would have done the same thing,” Brailsford said in his testimony.
Footage of shooting, captured on two police on-body cameras, formed the foundation of the prosecution’s case. The judge did not allow jurors to hear about an etching on the dust cover of the rifle Brailsford used to shoot Shaver, which said ” “You’re f–ked,” because he felt it was prejudicial.
Former Mesa police Officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford is on trial for second-degree murder in the shooting of Texas man Daniel Shaver in January 2016. Here’s an overview of the case.
Throughout the trial, which began in late October, Deputy County Attorney Susie Charbel portrayed Brailsford as a “killer” who claimed he feared for his life to cover up an unjustified shooting.
In her closing arguments, Charbel told the jury that an intoxicated Shaver looked “pathetic” before he was killed and didn’t get a chance to know who shot him.
“(Brailsford) doesn’t get a pass because he was wearing a police uniform that night,” Charbel said.
Brailsford’s lawyer, Michael Piccarreta, said Brailsford followed the tactics of a well-trained officer. If jurors believe the training is wrong, he said, that’s not something Brailsford should be accountable for.
Piccarreta said Brailsford shot Shaver because he was protecting himself, five other officers and a woman police had taken into custody.
“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.”
The shooting occurred after police were called to a Mesa La Quinta Inn & Suites on a report of a person pointing a gun out a fifth-floor window. A couple in a hotel hot tub told staff they saw a silhouette with a gun pointed toward a nearby highway.
Police determined Shaver was unarmed after he was shot. They did find a pellet gun in his hotel room, which Shaver used for his job as a pest-control worker.
Shaver was in Mesa that night on a work-related trip from Granbury, Texas.
Police later learned Shaver had been showing his pellet gun to Monique Portillo and Luis Nuñez, two hotel guests Shaver had met earlier that night. Both testified Shaver had been playing with the pellet gun near his hotel room window.
The police video shows Shaver was confused by some of Sgt. Charles Langley’s commands when he exited his hotel room.
At one point, while Shaver was on his knees, he put his hands behind his back and was ordered to put his hands back up in the air.
Langley, one of six officers in the hallway who has since retired from the force and moved to the Philippines, warned that Shaver would get shot if he put his hands down again, the video shows.
Shaver began to cry and said, “Please don’t shoot me.”
Trying to follow Langley’s commands, Shaver began to crawl on his hands and knees toward the six officers, the video shows. But Shaver stopped crawling and raised his right hand near his waistband, prompting Brailsford to fire.
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2Am9tNj