- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - News organizations have asked a judge to release body-camera videos in the case of a police officer charged with murder in the killing of an unarmed man outside his Mesa hotel room nearly three months ago.

Attorneys for the media outlets filed court papers Friday saying the judge’s decision to block the release of video showing Officer Philip Brailsford fatally shooting Daniel Shaver violates the Arizona Public Records Law.

The lawyers say the video is public information that can help answer questions about the case and that sealing the video can undermine the integrity of the legal system. Police shootings and unrest in Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri, were cited as examples.

The Associated Press, Arizona Republic, 12 News (KPNX-TV), ABC15 (KNXV-TV), CBS 5 (KPHO-TV) and 3 TV (KTVK) are petitioning the court for the release of the video.

“Arizona citizens have a fundamental right to know what their government is up to, especially when it comes to law enforcement,” the news organizations said in the motion.

Authorities released an extensive account of the shooting last week that included police reports, 911 calls and other records.

Prosecutors and Brailsford’s attorney said the video should be barred from public release to protect Brailsford’s fair-trial rights and there would be a risk of the jury pool being tainted if it’s released.

“The defendant’s right to a trial outweighs the public’s need to see the video at this time, especially because all this information is made available in the police reports,” defense attorney Craig Mehrens said Saturday. “If and when there is a trial, it will eventually be made available. It’s not like it’s going to be sealed forever.”

Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokesman Jerry Cobb declined to comment.

Shaver was killed on Jan. 18 as he and a woman were ordered to crawl toward officers in the hallway of the hotel. A tearful Shaver pleaded with officers to “please don’t shoot me” moments before Brailsford opened fire with a police-issued semiautomatic rifle that had profane language etched on the barrel, according to a police report.

Police said Shaver twice disobeyed their orders, and he was shot after reaching toward his waistband.

The shooting occurred after officers responded to a report that a man was pointing a rifle out a window.

No weapons were recovered from Shaver’s body, but two pellet rifles were found in the hotel room and determined to be related to his pest control job, police said.

Brailsford, 25, has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. He was fired last month for several policy violations, including unsatisfactory performance.

The news organizations pointed out that Shaver’s wife has asked for the video to be released.

___

Associated Press writer Terry Tang contributed to this report.


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