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Wife Of Man Shot By Mesa Police Gets Record-Breaking $8 Million Payday From City

Mesa, AZ – The city of Mesa has settled a lawsuit for $8 million with the wife and daughters of a man who was fatally shot by a police officer at an Arizona hotel in 2016.

The incident began on Jan. 18, 2016 when police were called to the La Quinta Inn & Suites after other hotel guests reported seeing a man pointing a rifle out of a window, according to KPNX.

Six officers responded to the hotel, including Mesa Police Officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford.

Officer Brailsford’s bodycam video showed Shaver on all fours and crawling toward officers and crying.

He appeared to be intoxicated, WFAA reported.

The bodycam video also showed Shaver reaching toward his waistband.

Officer Brailsford fired his AR-15 rifle five times because he said it appeared Shaver was reaching for a gun, according to AZCentral.com.

But it turned out that the guns the other hotel guests had reported in the suspect’s possession were airsoft pellet guns that Shaver used in his pest control business.

Prosecutors charged Officer Brailsford with second-degree murder for Shaver’s death, claiming that he had acted too quickly when he opened fire on the drunk exterminator, WFAA reported.

The Mesa Police Department fired Officer Brailsford, a three-year veteran of the police department, a few weeks after the shooting for performance issues, according to the Phoenix New Times.

The department said he was fired because he had engraved some inappropriate words on rifle’s dust cover.

Officer Brailsford’s rifle’s dust cover read, “You’re f-ked,” the Phoenix New Times reported.

The judge did not allow evidence of the phrase on the dust cover to be shown to the jury at trial because he said he felt it was prejudicial.

A Maricopa County jury found former Officer Brailsford not guilty of the second-degree murder of Shaver in December of 2017, the Phoenix New Times reported.

Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, filed a wrongful death suit against the city and the Mesa Police Department, WFAA reported.

Sweet said she did it to secure the financial futures of Shaver’s 10-year-old and 13-year-old daughters.

She said she had wanted the case to go to trial in the hopes that it would bring forth evidence that would encourage the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to file federal civil rights charges against former Officer Brailsford, WFAA reported.

But Sweet said the six-year legal battle had taken a toll on her children’s physical and mental health so she wanted to put an end to it.

The widow pointed out that the $8 million settlement itself was a major victory, WFAA reported.

“This is the highest verdict for a deceased victim in the state of Arizona, so that sets the bar in Arizona higher up for future victims,” Sweet explained. “Because unfortunately as much as I wish police would stop killing people, it’s going to continue to happen.”

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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