There’s nothing worse than when someone takes you for an idiot. It’s probably 1,000 times more so when there is video evidence of something and they (in this case the criminal-justice system) still take the piss.
But apparently those involved in the trial of Arizona Police Officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford don’t give a damn.
Brailsford was acquitted Thursday of the execution-style killing of an unarmed man who was seen on video begging for his life. The video, which was
not-so-coincidentally released after Brailsford’s acquittal, sparked outrage across the nation after Brailsford was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Texas dad Daniel Shaver in the hallway of a La Quinta Inn & Suites, Newsweek reports.
The horror of what Shaver experienced that night a year ago was only fully realized after the video was released. Brailsford forced the 26-year-old father—who was audibly terrified and could be heard crying, saying that he did not want to die—to crawl toward him before firing five bullets and killing him.
Many on social media who have seen the video have called it an outright “execution” and “murder.” Attorneys in the case also argued that Brailsford murdered Shaver “execution” style.
“This is one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen, not for the brutality of the shooting itself, but for the sadism of the cop who is getting off on humiliating a pliant & obedient suspect before ultimately shooting him,” Omar Baddar, deputy director of the Arab American Institute, tweeted.
Shaver’s deadly encounter with Brailsford began on Jan. 16, 2016, after police officers responded to a call about someone pointing a gun at the window of the hotel.
Shaver was visiting Mesa, Ariz., from Texas for his pest-control job. He was unarmed when police found him; however, witnesses said that he had showed off a pellet gun to two guests when he had met them earlier in the night.
The video shows how the situation rapidly declined from there.
Shaver exits his hotel room, only to see several officers waiting on him. Brailsford’s AR-15 was already pointed at him. Another officer, identified as Sgt. Charles Langley, could be heard on the video telling Shaver to “get on the ground.” Langley could also be heard telling Shaver that if he moves, he will get shot.
A shaken Shaver is sobbing and trying to cooperate with officers, saying, “Please don’t shoot me ... I’m trying to do what you tell me,” before Langley orders him to crawl toward him (why officers didn’t approach Shaver and cuff him while he was on the ground is beyond me).
As he’s crawling, Shaver’s hand appears to reach behind his back before Brailsford opens fire, shooting him five times with the semi-automatic rifle.
Police reports from the incident claimed that the movement Shaver made was “a very similar motion to someone drawing a pistol,” the BBC notes. However, some said that Shaver’s pants had fallen and he was trying to adjust them when he was shot, noting that his movement “was also consistent with attempting to pull his shorts up as they were falling off ... no other purposes for this movement appear to be viable.”
Of course, no weapon was found near Shaver. However, Brailsford insisted that he believed Shaver was reaching for a weapon.
“If this situation happened exactly as it did that time, I would have done the same thing,” Brailsford said in court, the Arizona Republic noted.
Newsweek notes that Brailsford was fired from the Police Department for violating policy two months after the shooting.
Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, shook her head as the verdict was read and left without speaking to media, the BBC reports, quoting the Associated Press.
Both Sweet’s and Shaver’s parents have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the city of Mesa.
Read more at Newsweek.