Arizona police officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, a bespectacled Ramboesque nerd of a cop, was one of six Mesa police officers who had their guns drawn on Daniel Shaver after they ordered him out of his hotel room last January.
Show us your hands, they first shouted. Place your hands behind your head, they then ordered. Place your hands on the floor and come crawling to use, they then commanded.
Shaver, a 26-year-old man who only moments earlier was showing his pellet gun to a couple of new acquaintances he had met in the hotel, began crawling towards the cops.
At one point, it appeared as if his shorts began slipping off and he instinctively reached back to pull them up, but a Mesa police sergeant told him not to do it again because it can be perceived as a threat.
“Please don’t shoot me,” Shaver begged as he kept crawling.
But his shorts kept slipping, so he reached back again to pull them up and that was when Brailsford fired five rounds from his personal AR-15 rifle with the words “You’re Fucked” inscribed on it, killing Shaver instantly.
One bullet struck Shaver in the back of the head. Another stuck him in the upper back. Another ripped into his upper chest. Another tore into his lower leg. And another grazed his cheek.
The autopsy report indicates that Shaver had his head down on the carpet for those two bullets to enter the back of his head and upper back.
Brailsford would later tell investigators that watching Shaver crawl towards him wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts was a “terrifying” experience each time he reached back to pull up his shorts, which you can see in the photo above, were not tightly fastened.
But his body cam footage convinced Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery that there was no need to kill Shaver – which is why the other five cops held their fire – and charged him with second-degree murder.
Today, Brailsford is due in court for a preliminary hearing where a judge will determine if second-degree murder is the appropriate charge, for which he has already pleaded not guilty.
Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, said in March that they plan to offer him a plea deal that would reduce the charge to negligent homicide, which would not be the appropriate charge considering it is geared towards individuals who accidentally kill another person through negligence.
Brailsford meant to kill Shaver. That’s what cops are trained to do. And that is what Brailsford apparently could not wait to do, carrying his personal AR-15 even though he had a loaded Glock in his holster.
A personal AR-15 with the words “You’re Fucked” inscribed on the side. He wanted to send a message. That much is clear.
But he is the son of a longtime internal affairs officer from the Mesa Police Department and we know how the justice system works, which is why it would not be surprising if he is offered the negligent homicide charge, which could leave him with a light probation sentence.
Mesa police are already claiming Shaver was highly intoxicated. And his autopsy states he had a blood alcohol content of .29, which is more than three times the legal limit – a figure the local media ran with.
However, the autopsy was not conducted until four days after the shooting, which means the figure could be a “false positive” because alcohol can continue fermenting in the body post mortem.
In fact, numerous studies can be found on the internet determining that alcohol readings on bodies can only be trusted within 48 hours of death.
According to Atlanta attorney Ken Shigley, who simplified it best:
As discussed in a recent article by forensic scientist Jim Wigmore, over half of postmortem blood is not sterile, and contains bacteria, yeast or fungi. In addition, postmortem blood sugar (glucose) concentration can be 7 to 10 times greater than blood before death.
Fermentation is the formation of alcohol from sugar. Yeasts can convert 100 milligrams of glucose into approximately 40 to 50 milligrams of alcohol. Bacteria and fungi generally can convert 100 milligrams of sugar into 10 – 20 milligrams of alcohol.
During fermentation other volatile compounds such as acetaldehyde and n-propanol are produced and may assist in the determination of elevated blood alcohol scores due to fermentation or putrefaction.
It has been well established for many years that:
Blood alcohol levels at autopsy are valid up to 48 hours after death when solid protocols are observed in the collection and storage of samples.
Alcohol levels in samples of blood taken from the intact heart are as significant as levels of blood from the femoral veins.
False blood alcohol levels greater than 0.200% can be generated in autopsy blood samples which are not correctly stored.
High blood alcohol levels may develop during putrefaction and levels up to 0.200% do not necessarily indicate that alcohol was imbibed before death.
Significant false high blood alcohol levels do not develop during incineration in absence of putrefaction.
However, the man and the woman who were with Shaver in the hotel room in the moments leading up to his death said that he was very drunk. In fact, they did not even know him until he met them in the elevator and invited them to his room for a shot of Bacardi.
That was when he showed them his pellet guns, which he uses to shoot birds that fly into Walmart. A specialized job that took him from Texas to Arizona.
In the room, Shaver and the other man were pointing the weapon out the window, checking out the scopes, which led to a couple downstairs to call the front desk, who in turn, called police.
But Arizona is an open carry state and guns are common, so it does seem like it was an overreaction just based on something somebody saw through a window.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has refused to release the body cam footage, but Sweet’s attorney, Ben Meiselas, said it should be released today, so stay tuned.
Below is a video from Laney Sweet where she talks about her frustrations about not being allowed to see the body cam footage, which includes a secret recording she made of the prosecutor, which is legal in Arizona.
Here is a link to Laney Sweet’s Go Fund Me page.