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Jury finds ex-Mesa police officer Brailsford not guilty on murder charge

Philip Brailsford (Mesa Police Department Photo)

PHOENIX — A jury found former Mesa Police Department officer Philip Brailsford not guilty Thursday of murdering a man inside a hotel nearly two years ago.

He faced between 10 and 25 years in prison had he been convicted of the second-degree murder charge. Brailsford was also found not guilty on the lesser charge of reckless manslaughter.

In 2016, Brailsford shot and killed Daniel Shaver in the hallway of the La Quinta Inn and Suites near Superstition Springs Boulevard and U.S. 60 after officers responded to a call about a man pointing a gun out of a window.

The Mesa Police Department released body camera footage of the shooting, which jurors were shown during the trial, shortly after the verdict was announced on Thursday.

The video showed Brailsford opening fire when Shaver, who had been ordered to crawl toward officers, reached toward the waistband of his shorts. The officer said he believed Shaver was reaching for a gun.

Shaver pleaded with officers between tears, saying “please do not shoot me.”

(WARNING: The video is graphic and contains strong language. The shooting takes place around the 17-minute mark.)

“Daniel Shaver drew his last breath on his hands and knees,” prosecutor Susie Charbel told jurors, pointing out that none of the other officers in the hallway fired a shot.

Brailsford attorney Michael Piccarreta told jurors his client had to make a difficult, split-second decision about protecting himself and others.

“Mr. Shaver wasn’t going to get shot until he moves his hand behind his back,” Piccarreta said.

Piccarreta also noted the dangers of the call to which officers were responding — someone pointing a rifle out of a fifth story of a hotel. “They have no idea who the person is, their intentions,” Piccarreta told jurors.

No weapons were found on Shaver’s body, but two pellet rifles related to his pest-control job were later found in the room.

Charbel said a pellet rifle was pointed out the window for 30 to 45 seconds because Shaver wanted to show another man in his hotel room how far the rifle’s scope allowed him to see.

Following the verdict, the Mesa Police Department released a statement that said the department “completed and provided a thorough investigation to the Maricopa County Attorneys Office.”

“We have confidence in the due process of the criminal justice system to review the facts completely and accurately,” the statement added. “Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate our policies, tactics, and training in pursuit of operational best practices.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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