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Arizona police officer found not guilty of murder, manslaughter in fatal shooting of unarmed man at hotel; full video released


Tom Steele
The Dallas Morning News

A former Arizona police officer has been found not guilty of murder after he killed an unarmed Granbury man who was begging for his life.

Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, 27, faced a charge of second-degree murder in the January 2016 slaying of 26-year-old Daniel Shaver at an Arizona hotel, but was found not guilty Thursday by a Maricopa County jury. Brailsford was also found not guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Shaver cried and pleaded “Please don’t shoot” just before Brailsford fired his AR-15 rifle five times, according to police body-cam footage and a witness.

Police were called to a La Quinta Inn & Suites in Mesa on Jan. 18, 2016, by a clerk who reported that someone was pointing a rifle out a fifth-floor window.

Officers went to Shaver’s room and ordered him and a woman, later identified as Monique Portillo, to exit. They told Shaver to get on the ground and Portillo to approach them so they could handcuff her.

Portillo told police that they had been drinking and that Shaver might have been drunk. She said he showed her and a male colleague a pellet gun in his room earlier that night.

According to a written description of police body-cam footage, Shaver was “compliant and offered no resistance.” When an officer identified as Sgt. Charles Langley asked Shaver questions, he responded with “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.”

Shaver then moved and Langley yelled, “If you do that again, we are shooting you.”

He replied, “Please don’t shoot me,” while sobbing.

Officers then told Shaver to crawl toward them. As he did so, his hand moved toward his waistband and officers began to yell “Don’t!” before Brailsford fired five shots.

According to police documents, Shaver’s movement was consistent with both “attempting to pull his shorts up as they were falling off” and “someone drawing a pistol from their waist band.”

Shaver, who was unarmed, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police found two pellet guns, which he used for his pest-control job, in his hotel room.

Brailsford, who worked for the Mesa Police Department for about two years, was fired following the shooting.

Shaver’s parents are seeking unspecified damages in a wrongful-death lawsuit against Brailsford, Langley and the city of Mesa. Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, has filed a separate $75 million lawsuit against the city, the officers and the hotel’s parent company.


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