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Widow of Daniel Shaver opens up about Mesa officer’s not guilty verdict

PHOENIX — Nearly a week after a jury cleared a former Mesa police officer of murder charges in the shooting of Daniel Shaver, his widow told a national television audience, “I just don’t understand how anybody could watch that [body-cam] video and then say, ‘not guilty.'”

Laney Sweet told CBS News on Tuesday that her unarmed husband died, “a very horrible inhumane death” at a hotel in early 2016.

Graphic body-cam footage of Shaver’s final minutes was released last Thursday by the Mesa Police Department, shortly after a jury found Philip Brailsford not guilty of second-degree murder charges.

Police had been called to the hotel near U.S. 60 and Superstition Springs Boulevard after reports of a man pointing a rifle from a window.

“You had a man begging for his life, and he was shot five times for what? For his elbow coming up too high? For being confused? For being compliant? Why did he deserve to die? He didn’t,” Sweet said in the interview, her first since the verdict was rendered.

Brailsford testified that he fired his rifle when Shaver, who was lying face-down in a hallway after officers ordered him out of his hotel room, reached toward his back. The officer thought Shaver was reaching for a weapon and said he had to make split-second decision.

Brailsford had been on the job for two years before he was dismissed for violating department policy and unsatisfactory performance.

In January, Sweet filed a wrongful death suit against the city, the responding officers and the hotel’s parent company, seeking $75 million in damages. The document described the killing as unprovoked and avoidable had officers investigated more thoroughly before confronting Shaver.

The couple has two young daughters. Sweet said her 8-year-old recently tried to hurt herself out of continued grief and had been hospitalized.

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