An unarmed man was shot dead outside his hotel room by an Arizona cop moments after he pleaded for his life while crawling on his knees.
Unarmed 26-year-old father of two Daniel Shaver pleaded “please don’t shoot me” while made to crawl on the floor toward police officers, only to be shot dead moments later.
A witness and a transcription of officer video footage describe Daniel Shaver saying “Please don’t shoot me” and “Please don’t shoot,” just before an officer later identified as Philip “Mitch” Brailsford fired his service weapon.
Brailsford has been charged with second-degree murder and terminated from the Mesa Police Department.
The report also provides a potential plausible defense for Brailsford, with other responding officers supporting Brailsford’s claim that he had “perceived a threat.”
At least one other officer reported aiming a service weapon at Shaver after he unexpectedly reached toward his waistband.
“The male was instructed to crawl towards us with his hands in the air,” that officer said in a supplemental report. “As the male came close to us I saw him abruptly drop his right hand from above his head and reach back to the small of his back. I immediately perceived this as a threat and a movement to reach a handgun.”
Brailsford and other officers said Shaver had been warned that he would be shot if he moved his hands behind him.
On Tuesday, the Mesa Police Department released the police report, 911 calls and other material from its investigation of Brailsford’s shooting of Shaver, who was unarmed, at a hotel in January.
The department provided the report, 911 calls, radio traffic and scene photographs, among other information. The material released did not include officers’ body camera video from the scene.
Shaver, 26, died after being shot in a hallway outside his room at a Mesa La Quinta Inn & Suites on Jan. 18. Brailsford was charged with one count of second-degree murder in a direct complaint by the County Attorney’s Office on March 4.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said body-camera footage obtained from the officer was used in his office’s review of the case. The fatal shooting was the result of unjustified deadly force, Montgomery said.
The county attorney’s complaint stated Brailsford was “manifesting an extreme indifference to human life recklessly causing the death of another.”
A chance encounter, reported by witnesses
According to the report released Tuesday, a man and woman who were attending a conference and staying at the La Quinta, near Power Road and Superstition Springs Boulevard, said they met Shaver in the hallway and went to his fifth-floor room to take shots of alcohol.
Inside Shaver’s hotel room, the woman saw a case and asked if it contained a musical instrument, the records said. Shaver opened the case and revealed a pellet gun and a dead sparrow.
Shaver told the woman he was on a business trip with Walmart and that it was his job to kill all of the birds that get inside buildings, the report stated.
The woman said Shaver and the other man were pointing the rifle out the window, and she and told them to stop as she was afraid they’d hurt someone because they were drinking.
The emergency call to police came shortly after 9 p.m. after guests in the hotel pool area reported seeing a man point a rifle outside the fifth-floor window.
Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, said earlier this month that she had grown more and more frustrated by the lack of details made available to the public, including the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death, two months after it occurred. They are the parents of two young girls.
“I can’t bring him back, but I will fight for justice for him,” Sweet said. “My kids are absolutely heartbroken and I can’t fix it.”
Court records indicate Shaver could have been intoxicated at the time of his death and may not have understood what police were asking.
In the report, various witnesses interviewed described Shaver as extremely intoxicated before the shooting.
Officers arrived at Shaver’s hotel room and found him there with the unidentified woman. Sweet said the male colleague had stepped outside to call his wife.
Shaver and the woman were ordered to leave the hotel room and were then told to get on their hands and knees into the hallway, the county attorney’s office said. The woman crawled toward the officers and was apprehended without incident.
“Shaver was cooperative, but sometimes confused by the commands and because of his possible intoxication,” according to a court document released earlier this month. “The sergeant told Shaver that if he put his hands behind his back then he would be shot.”
Records indicate Shaver was shot by Brailsford as Shaver made a motion with his right hand toward his waistline, possibly to pull his shorts up as they were sagging, the report said. Shaver was declared dead at the scene.
Investigators later found two pellet guns in Shaver’s room, police said.
An autopsy report on Shaver has not yet been made public.
Fired by the department
Brailsford was fired by the Mesa Police Department on March 21 in connection with the fatal shooting. The department also cited an inappropriate etching on Brailsford’s AR-15 patrol rifle as a violation of the department’s service weapons policy.
Records released Tuesday offered more information on the etchings.
“You’re F***ed” was etched onto Brailsford’s weapon, an internal investigation report stated. In addition, an investigator found the words “molon labe” engraved on the outside dust cover. The Greek words, a classical expression of defiance, loosely translate to “come and take them.”
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