A jury acquitted Philip Brailsford of both second-degree murder and reckless manslaughter. He was facing up to 25 years in prison.
Brailsford claimed he was in fear for his life, thinking Daniel Shaver was reaching for a gun, even though five other officers at the scene held their fire.
Mesa police were responding to a call at the LaQuinta Inn about a man pointing a gun out of an upstairs window on January 18, 2016. Shaver, who was in the pest control business, was actually holding a pellet gun, showing it off to a new acquaintance he had met.
“Please don’t shoot me,” Shaver pleaded as he crawled towards the cops after being ordered out of his motel room, a fact omitted in several police reports from cops who witnessed the shooting.
Body cam footage of the actual shooting was presented to the jury but has not yet been made public.
Brailsford was one of six officers called to a Mesa motel on January 18, 2016, after someone reported seeing the barrel of a rifle sticking out of a window.
He and the other officers took up positions around the fifth-floor room occupied by Daniel Shaver, 26, a pest-control technician from Nashville, Tennessee.
As the jury learned, Shaver had invited a man and woman up to his room for drinks before police got there, and was showing them an air rifle he sometimes used to kill birds. The other man eventually left, leaving just Shaver and the woman in the room.
Excerpts of Brailsford body-cam footage can be seen on YouTube; a judge ruled that the shooting sequence could be edited out of the public version.
Brailsford was fired from the Mesa Police Department after the shooting, where his father was a longtime internal affairs police. No word yet on whether he will be rehired.
Shaver’s widow and mother of his two children, Laney Sweet, filed a lawsuit last year, which is still pending.
Earlier today in another trial, a federal judge sentenced a cop to 20 years in prison for shooting and killing an unarmed man as he ran away.
UPDATE: December 8, 2:14 a.m. Body cam footage released after the verdict shows the cop gunning Daniel Shaver as he pleaded for his life and tried to follow their contradicting orders.