The video says it all. From Scott Shackford at reason.com:
Arizona jurors watched the video below, which shows former Mesa, Arizona, police officer Philip Mitchell Brailsford shooting and killing a man who was begging for his life and attempting to follow the officer’s orders to crawl down a hotel hallway.
Yesterday, the jurors found Brailsford not guilty of second-degree murder and reckless manslaughter. Do you agree? (Warning: The video is pretty graphic.)
The incident occurred in January 2016. Daniel Shaver apparently was showing off a pellet gun, and it was visible through the hotel room window. This promped somebody to call to the hotel front desk, which prompted a call to the police.
So it wasn’t unreasonable for police to approach the hotel room thinking the encounter might be dangerous. They knew there was a gun there, and they didn’t know it was a pellet gun. But that video shows some truly baffling decisions by Brailsford that escalated the situation to make it even scarier, not the least of which was that Brailsford’s bluster and open threats of violence made him appear as terrified as Shaver.
The contents of the body camera footage had been described to the public before, when Brailsford was first charged, but the video itself was withheld until this morning. NBC notes:
The detective investigating the shooting had agreed Shaver’s movement was similar to reaching for a pistol, but has said it also looked as though Shaver was pulling up his loose-fitting basketball shorts that had fallen down as he was ordered to crawl.
The investigator noted he did not see anything that would have prevented officers from simply handcuffing Shaver as he was on the floor.
Forcing Shaver to crawl toward the police like this increased the likelihood that Shaver would lose balance and make wild movements, and Brailsford’s bizarre orders were probably confusing even to a sober person.
Oh, and here’s an interesting detail from the Arizona Republic:
The judge did not allow jurors to hear about an etching on the dust cover of the rifle Brailsford used to shoot Shaver, which said “You’re f–ked,” because he felt it was prejudicial.
Shaver’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Mesa. Brailsford was fired for poor performance two months after the shooting. Would anybody care to bet that he tries either to get his job back in Mesa or to get a job with another law enforcement agency elsewhere?