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Former Mesa officer charged with fatally shooting man to start trial

Former Mesa officer Philip Brailsford (Mesa Police Department Photo)

PHOENIX — The trial for a former Mesa police officer who was charged with second-degree murder after shooting an unarmed Texas man to death last year is set to begin on Monday.

Philip “Mitch” Brailsford will be on trial for fatally shooting Daniel Shaver at the La Quinta Inn and Suites near Superstition Springs Boulevard and the US 60 in Mesa in January of last year.

The shooting occurred after Brailsford and other Mesa officers were called to the hotel after reports came in of a suspect pointing a rifle out of a room window.

The officers then surrounded the room and ordered Shaver and a female suspect to exit. The woman complied and was arrested, but Shaver allegedly made a movement toward his waistline.

At this point, Brailsford allegedly opened fire, hitting Shaver five times and killing him.

No weapons were recovered from Shaver’s body, but officers found two pellet rifles in the hotel room, which they later determined were related to his pest control job, police said.

Brailsford was charged with second-degree murder in Shaver’s death in March. Maricopa County Bill Montgomery said at the time that the “use of deadly physical force was not justified in this instance.”

According to a police report released shortly after Brailsford’s arrest, Shaver allegedly said “please don’t shoot me” while sobbing and appearing panicked before he was fatally shot.

Maricopa County prosecutors and Mesa police declined to release video of the shooting from Brailsford’s body camera, saying that releasing the video could could have affected potential jurors in the case.

Media outlets argued for the video’s release, saying it is public record. Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, also wanted prosecutors to let her see the video. The judge denied Sweet’s request.

Brailsford was fired from the department in March, after he was charged, for several policy violations, including unsatisfactory performance.

Other records released by Mesa police show that Brailsford was accused of using inappropriate force when he and other officers took three people into custody several months before Shaver’s death.

Brailsford also was accused of violating departmental policy by using a rifle that had profane language etched onto it.

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