What We Know About Daniel Shaver’s Murder

Daniel Shaver is dead, shot five times by Phillip “Mitch” Brailsford, formerly of the Mesa, Arizona Police Department. Brailsford was found not guilty of second degree murder by a jury of his peers. Mitch will see his family this holiday season. Shaver will not.

People who haven’t seen the video or want to make excuses for Brailsford are trotting out the most tired of arguments in favor of the shoot. “Comply with the cops and you won’t get shot.” “Stay out of trouble and this won’t happen.” Quite possibly the worst being that the video is open to interpretation, and that whether the shoot was justified is open to opinion.

Fine. Let’s discuss what we know of the shoot, since people want to throw out their opinions.

  1. On January 18, 2016, Daniel Shaver was staying at a La Quinta Inn in Mesa, Arizona on business.
  2. Shaver was in his hotel room that evening showing guests a pellet gun used for his pest control business.
  3. Mesa police received a 911 call claiming a man was pointing a rifle out of a window at the La Quinta Inn at 6530 Superstition Boulevard. Police were dispatched to the scene to investigate.
  4. One officer present was Phillip “Mitch” Brailsford, the son of a former lieutenant who practiced as an attorney at the time of the shoot.
  5. Mitch Brailsford had a personal AR-15 with a custom dust cover inscribed “You’re Fucked.”
  6. On arrival, Brailsford and other officers ordered Shaver and the female in the room out. Both were intoxicated.
  7. The officers on scene ordered Shaver and his female companion to do very highly specific things, like “keep your legs crossed and push yourself up into a kneeling position.”
  8. When Shaver’s legs came uncrossed, Sergeant Charles Langley tells Shaver that if he screws up again, there is a possibility he could be shot.
“If you make a mistake, another mistake, there is a very severe possibility that you’re both going to get shot. Do you understand?”
“I’m not here to be tactical and diplomatic with you. You listen. You obey,”
“If you move, we’re going to consider that a threat and we are going to deal with it and you may not survive it,” — Sgt. Charles Langley, Mesa PD.

9. The unnamed female crawled backward in the hallway, where she was taken into custody.

10. As an intoxicated Shaver attempts to crawl towards Langley and Brailsford, crying and begging for his life, he reaches for his waistband.

11. Brailsford shot Shaver five times, killing him.

12. The Mesa Police Department did not call Shaver’s widow until four days later. Laney Sweet would learn of her husband’s death from the Mesa Coroner’s office.

13. Laney Sweet demanded the release of Mitch Brailsford’s body cam footage and filed a notice of claim for wrongful death in the amount of $35 million dollars.

14. The request for the body cam footage was denied.

15. On March 14, 2016 the Maricopa County Attorney filed second degree murder charges against Mitch Brailsford.

16. At or around this time, Mesa PD began terminating Brailsford’s employment.

17. During his trial, Mitch Brailsford maintained he acted appropriately.

“If this situation happened exactly as it did at that time, I would have done the same thing.” — Phillip “Mitch” Brailsford

18. On December 7, 2017, an eight member jury of Brailsford’s peers found him not guilty of second degree murder and not guilty of the lesser charge of reckless manslaughter.

19. Officials only released the body cam footage after the trial concluded.

20. The trial judge also ruled the dust cover etched with the phrase “You’re Fucked” inadmissible as evidence.

21. Laney Sweet and Shaver’s parents both have wrongful death suits pending against the city of Mesa.

If you’ve not seen the video and still think Daniel Shaver’s death was anything but an execution, I implore you to watch this one for Laney Sweet, her kids, and Shaver’s family. As you watch the video, make a list of the commands officers ordered Shaver to comply with.

Once the video is finished, try to comply with the list. Imagine being intoxicated and having officers yelling, pointing guns at you while you do so.

This is a San Andreas sized crack in the criminal justice system. There is no good reason Mitch Brailsford should remain free.

But this year, he gets to spend time with his family during the holidays. He will wrap presents, decorate a tree, or attend parties.

Laney Sweet will spend the holidays explaining to her two daughters why Daddy’s not coming home for Christmas.