In the moments before an Arizona police officer opened fire and killed Daniel Shaver, the unarmed man begged police not to kill him.
“Please don’t shoot me,” Shaver pleaded as he crawled on his hands and knees towards the cops before one of them opened fire, killing him instantly.
Mesa police officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford later claimed he was in fear for his life because Shaver had reached for his waistband.
However, not only does Brailsford’s body cam video of the shooting does not show Shaver reaching for his waistband, according to his widow, Laney Sweet, who has watched the video multiple times during Brailsford trial on second-degree murder charges – police omitted to report that he begged for his life prior to being shot and killed.
Five police officers. Five police reports. Five police narratives. And not one mention of the victim begging for his life.
In fact, one police officer investigating the shooting testified that he found this suspicious, according to the Arizona Republic.
On Wednesday, Mesa homicide Detective Paul Sipe gave testimony that appeared to be damaging to Brailsford’s defense.
When a Mesa police officer shoots a person, the department investigates its own officer and forwards the investigation to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which then decides if the officer should be charged with a crime.
In this case, Sipe led the investigation into Brailsford’s decision to shoot. Brailsford was charged by the County Attorney’s Office in March 2016.
Sipe told the jury on Wednesday that he became suspicious of the officers’ reports when he noticed they omitted “vital information.” Sipe didn’t specify what he was talking about and
Deputy County Attorney Susie Charbel didn’t ask him to be specific.
But throughout the trial, Charbel has noted that of the five written reports from the officers on the scene, they left out that Shaver had cried and begged not to be shot. That information became public in Sipe’s supplemental report released two months after the shooting.
The judge instructed the jury to strike Sipe’s remark that he found the omission suspicious when the defense attorney objected. But Sipe essentially gave the same answer when the prosecutor asked him the same question.
“All five reports omitted the same information that was vital to the case,” Sipe said.
So why would they omit such an important detail? Because it proves that Shaver was the one fearing for his life. Not Brailsford.
In fact, another cop who was at the scene and did not fire his gun testified that he did not see Shaver as an “imminent threat,” which is why he did not shoot. And neither did the five other cops training their guns on Shaver felt the need to open fire, indicating they were not in fear for their lives.
However, that cop, Brian Elmore, tried to change his testimony after reading how it was interpreted by the news media the following day. Elmore, who wanted to testify that he likely would have shot and killed Shaver, later rescinded the request to change his testimony.
It’s obvious these cops can’t get their stories straight.
According to Sweet, her husband appeared to be trying to crawl around a purse that had been strewn in the hallway by the woman who had also been ordered to crawl on her hands and knees towards the cops.
This is how she explained it in an email to Photography is Not a Crime:
Sgt Langley did not get Monique’s purse out of the hallway. It was left there on the floor. Daniel was crawling on his hands and knees at a slight right diagonal angle from the left side of the hallway. His head and eyes were facing the carpet, never once looking at the officers once instructed to crawl. He brought his right hand slightly up to his right side (you can see his elbow bend briefly if you pause the video) as he got to the point in trying to navigate around her purse. His left hand, which had been directly under his left shoulder while he was crawling up to this point, moved more towards the center of his body on the floor… giving me the impression he was trying to move around the purse. As his right hand comes back down in front of him towards the floor, Brailsford opened fire. He fell over and died instantly on top of Monique’s purse.
His right hand never touched his waistband or went to “the small of his back” as (some) officers keep testifying to. It just went to his side briefly before returning back out in front of him to take his next “step” as he was crawling.
The trial, which began last month, will continue the following Monday. The judge has not approved the release of the video.
Sweet also has a pending lawsuit, which you can read here.