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In Daniel Shaver’s final moments, he was heard pleading for his life - sobbing and saying to police officers, “Please don’t shoot me.”
Shortly afterward, Shaver was shot and killed by one of them, according to an investigation report from the Mesa Police Department in Mesa, Arizona.
In January, authorities said former officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford fatally shot Shaver after responding to a call about a suspect with a gun. He has been charged with second-degree murder and fired from the force.
On Tuesday, according to the Arizona Republic, authorities released a report detailing witness testimony as well as audio and video footage from a body camera that suggests an unarmed and intoxicated Shaver was begging to be spared. The report also indicates Brailsford may have had cause for concern as Shaver made a move toward his waistband while approaching police.
Authorities said Brailsford then fired five shots.
Late at night on Jan. 18, an employee at a Mesa La Quinta Inn & Suites phoned police to report that someone had been pointing a rifle from a fifth-floor window.
“A couple of the guests have come to me,” the La Quinta Inn worker said, according to the Arizona Republic. “I’m an employee and they’ve come to me and they’ve told me that somebody is pointing a rifle outside of one of the windows in our building.”
A woman later told police that she and a colleague were in Mesa for a Dollar General training conference and that Shaver had invited them into his room for “shots,” according to the report.
She told police she saw a case in Shaver’s room that contained a gun and a dead sparrow.
“Shaver told her he was on a business trip with Walmart and his job is to kill all of the birds that get inside the buildings,” according to the report. Shaver’s wife, Laney Sweet, said on Facebook he would travel from their Texas home to Mesa a few times per month to service pest removal stores.
The woman told police that Shaver and her male colleague started messing with the rifle, pointing it out the window. Her colleague later left the room.
When the officers arrived, they called Shaver on the phone and asked them to exit the room.
The woman later told investigators that she heard police yell at Shaver because he was not “following protocol.” She then saw police shoot him and “saw him go down,” according to the report.
IF YOU DO THAT AGAIN, WE ARE SHOOTING YOU. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?Police officer
NO, PLEASE DON’T SHOOT ME.Daniel Shaver
But moments before he was killed, the woman said, he was crying, saying: “Please don’t shoot.”
Body camera footage shows that during the confrontation with police, Shaver was on the ground with his hands extended above his head, according to the report. At one point, the report stated, he tried tried to raise his body.
“If you do that again, we are shooting you,” an officer said, according to the report. “Do you understand?”
Shaver responded: “No, please don’t shoot me.”
Authorities said no weapon was seen on Shaver, but it was unclear whether he had one.
An officer told Shaver to crawl toward them.
Sobbing, he said, “Yes, sir,” and started to move.
Once he reached the area where the woman’s purse was, the report stated, “his left hand moved across his body and around the purse in order to crawl past it. Shaver was audibly sobbing as he crawled.”
The report stated that Brailsford’s rifle was pointed down the hall until that point.
“Brailsford then swung his rifle back toward Shaver where Shaver could be seen with his braced left hand and his right hand moving back toward his waist with his elbow raised behind him,” according to the report. “Shaver’s head appeared to be down with his face looking at the carpet.”
The report stated that “multiple voices” began to say “don’t” as “Shaver’s hand moved back toward the front of his body.”
“Brailsford fired his first shot as Shaver’s hand was moving toward the front of his body and as at least one officer was heard saying ‘don’t,’” according to the report.
Authorities said Brailsford fired about five shots.
Shaver, 26, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officer was ‘high achiever’
On Tuesday, Mesa police also released Brailsford’s personnel file, which was obtained by the Republic. The newspaper said it painted a picture of “a high achiever who scarcely received criticism from his employers or the public.”
In 2013, Brailsford spoke with the Arizona Republic when he became one of the first rookies to receive Axon body cameras during the department’s push for greater security and transparency.
“I definitely think there is a benefit to start out with this so young,” he said then. “It’s like learning a new tool right off the bat.”
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced earlier this month that it was pursuing second-degree murder charges against Brailsford.
“The use of deadly physical force by law enforcement is governed by Arizona law and is always a tragedy when the loss of life results,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said, according to the Arizona Republic. “After carefully reviewing the relevant facts and circumstances, we have determined that the use of deadly physical force was not justified in this instance.”
Brailsford told investigators that “a million things” were racing through his mind and he felt threatened when Shaver was crawling, “trying to gain a position of advantage in order to gain a better firing position on us,” according to the report.
Brailsford entered a not-guilty plea. Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, has started adamantly fighting against a possible plea deal in the case.
Sweet told the Republic earlier this month that she had been frustrated by the lack of information available in her husband’s death.
“I can’t bring him back, but I will fight for justice for him,” she told the newspaper. “My kids are absolutely heartbroken and I can’t fix it.”
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