Shooting of Daniel Shaver
|Date||January 18, 2016|
|Location||La Quinta Inn & Suites, Mesa, Arizona, U.S.|
|Filmed by||Police bodycams|
|Deaths||Daniel Shaver (aged 26)|
Mesa Police Department officer Philip Brailsford shot and killed Daniel Leetin Shaver of Granbury, Texas in the hallway of a La Quinta Inn & Suites hotel on January 18, 2016. Shaver was confronted by police responding to a report saying that he had been pointing a rifle out a fifth-floor hotel window. Hotel guests near the pool had notified the front desk of the incident and the hotel immediately called the police. Shaver and Monique Portillo exited the room where the weapon was allegedly seen. Portillo and Shaver were both ordered to lie down on their stomachs, crossing their legs. Portillo was commanded to push herself to her knees keeping her legs crossed, then put her arms up. Portillo was then commanded to crawl forward. Portillo followed commands and was taken into custody.
Shaver was intoxicated and struggled to follow the instructions yelled by Sergeant Charles Langley. Shaver was instructed to push himself up to his knees and keep his legs crossed. Shaver failed to keep his legs crossed and was reprimanded by Sergeant Langley. Immediately after being reprimanded by Sergeant Langley, Shaver put both of his hands behind his back without being commanded to do so. Shaver was again reprimanded by Sergeant Langley and instructed to put his hands straight up in the air. Sergeant Langley told Shaver "Do not put your hands down for any reason. You think you are going to fall, you would better fall on your face." Shaver stated he understood the commands. Shaver was told to crawl towards Sergeant Langley. While doing so Shaver put his hands down to the floor. As Shaver was crawling he stopped and appeared to reach behind his back with his right arm. Officer Brailsford shot Shaver after perceiving Shaver's actions as a threat.
After the shooting, the rifle, which remained in the room, was determined to be a pellet gun. Following an investigation, Brailsford was charged with second-degree murder and a lesser manslaughter charge and found not guilty by a jury. Prosecutors argued the shooting was unjustified. In March 2018, it became known that the United States Department of Justice has reopened the case and is looking into a possible civil rights violation by Brailsford; the jury that declared him not guilty was not shown a body camera video that recorded the shooting.
According to a police report, Daniel Leetin Shaver (December 29, 1989 – January 18, 2016), a pest-control worker and resident of Granbury, Texas, had been staying at a Mesa La Quinta Inn & Suites on business. He invited two acquaintances to his room for drinks. There he showed them a scoped air rifle he was using to exterminate birds inside grocery stores. At one point the gun was pointed outside his hotel window, prompting a witness to notify the front desk; the police were immediately called. Upon arrival, police gave Shaver and his acquaintance detailed orders for several minutes, with frequent admonitions that failing to comply with them would get them shot.
Eventually, Shaver was ordered to his knees and told to keep his legs crossed. Shaver failed to keep his legs crossed and was admonished by Sergeant Langley. Shaver then put his hands behind his back without being told to do so and was again admonished by Sergeant Langley. Police Sergeant Charles Langley yelled at Shaver that if he deviated from police instructions again, they would shoot him. Sergeant Langley told Shaver not to put his hands down for any reason. Shaver stated that he understood the commands and said "Please don't shoot me". Upon being instructed to crawl, Shaver put his hands down, again violating the Sergeant's commands, and crawled on all fours. While crawling towards the officers, Shaver paused and reached towards his waist behind his back. Phillip Brailsford opened fire with his AR-15 rifle, striking Shaver five times and killing him almost instantly. Shaver was unarmed.
In early March 2016, Brailsford was charged with second-degree murder in relation to the incident. Brailsford had previously been investigated for body slamming a teenager during an arrest. Later that month, the Mesa Police Department, citing several policy violations that included the words "YOU'RE FUCKED" engraved into his rifle dust cover and unsatisfactory performance, fired Brailsford. Brailsford pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution and defense have interviewed 34 witnesses, but key witness Monique Portillo has not cooperated with any requests for media interviews. Portillo, who had been drinking in Shaver's room with Shaver and a co-worker, exited the hotel room with Shaver when commanded by police to enter the hallway.
Brailsford's trial for second-degree murder was originally scheduled for February 2017. A defense motion challenging the state's probable cause to send the case to trial, and appeals to the Arizona Supreme Court over the release of controversially redacted footage from Brailsford's body camera, made a February trial unrealistic. On February 10, 2017, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge George Foster rescheduled the trial for October 23, 2017. Brailsford faced up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of second-degree murder.
Body camera footage
Shaver's wife and her lawyer requested that the Mesa Police Department release bodycam footage of the event. The request for the bodycam footage was initially refused. In a recording released by Shaver's wife, purportedly of a meeting between her and Maricopa County prosecutors, she was told that she could watch the video only if she agreed not to discuss its contents with the press. Prosecutors and defense attorneys in Brailsford's murder trial asked that the bodycam footage be sealed. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sam Myers granted the motion to seal the footage.
On May 25, 2016, Myers ordered portions of the video released. The released video omits the shooting itself. The redacted version includes footage from Brailsford's body camera up to the time when someone exits Shaver's hotel room and footage from another officer's camera while he escorts a woman from the room. The full unedited body camera footage of the shooting was unsealed by the Court after the end of the trial.
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