Phoenix, AZ – A Maricopa County jury found former Mesa Police Department Officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford not guilty of second-degree murder on Thursday.
Officer Brailsford fatally shot Daniel Shaver at a Mesa hotel in 2016.
The incident began when police were called to the La Quinta Inn & Suites for reports of a man pointing a rifle out of a window on Jan. 18, 2016, according to KPNX.
Six officers responded to the hotel, including Officer Brailsford.
Officer Brailsford’s bodycam video showed Shaver on all fours and crawling toward officers and crying.
The bodycam video also showed Shaver reaching toward his waistband.
Officer Brailsford fired his AR-15 rifle five times because it appeared Shaver was reaching for a gun, according to AZCentral.com.
During the trial, prosecutors accused now former-Officer Brailsford of acting too quickly when he shot Shaver. They said he might not have even been looking at Shaver when he shot him.
But the ex-cop stood by his split-second decision throughout his trial.
“If this situation happened exactly as it did that time, I would have done the same thing,” former Officer Brailsford said in his testimony.
His lawyer, Michael Piccarreta, said that the officer was well trained, and following approved tactics.
Piccarreta said that if the jurors believed the training was wrong, that wasn’t something for which the officer should be held accountable.
“The last thing in the world that Mitch Brailsford wanted to do that night was shoot. His goal wasn’t to kill Daniel Shaver,” Piccarreta told the jury, according to AZCentral.com. “Shaver is not a bad person, but his actions are what brought the police that night.”
Deputy County Attorney Susie Charbel called the defendant a “killer” during the trial, and argued the officer claimed he feared for his life to cover up an unjustified shooting.
In her closing arguments, Charbel told the jury that Shaver was intoxicated and looked “pathetic” before he was killed, and didn’t get a chance to know who shot him, according to AZCentral.com.
The Mesa Police fired Officer Brailsford a few weeks after the shooting for performance issues, according to the Phoenix New Times. He’d worked for them for almost three years.
The department claimed his dismissal was due to some inappropriate words he’d had engraved on his rifle’s dust cover.
The judge did not allow jurors to hear about the etching, which said “You’re f****d,” because he felt it was prejudicial.