- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

MESA, Ariz. (AP) - Newly released reports from a fatal police shooting in Arizona show that an unarmed man pleaded with officers not to hurt him shortly before one officer opened fire out of a fear the man was reaching for a gun.

The reports examining the death of Daniel Shaver said he sobbed and appeared panicked outside his Mesa hotel room as officers ordered him to keep his hands on the ground. Officer Philip Brailsford, who fatally shot Shaver, faces a murder charge.

Officers, who were called there on a report that a man was pointing a rifle out a window, said Shaver twice disobeyed their orders.

“Please don’t shoot me,” the report quotes Shaver as saying.

The Mesa Police Department on Tuesday released police reports, 911 calls and other records from its investigation of Shaver’s Jan. 18 death. They also released records on Brailsford.

Officers had ordered Shaver and a woman to exit the hotel room and crawl toward officers. The woman, who had met Shaver in a hotel elevator and was drinking alcohol with him, complied with police orders and wasn’t hurt.

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

Prosecutors concluded the shooting was not justified.

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

Maricopa County prosecutors and Mesa police have declined to release video of the shooting from Brailsford’s body camera.

The records included the police interview that Brailsford gave after he shot Shaver.

Brailsford told investigators that Shaver, who is from Granbury, Texas, was ordered to crawl toward officers with his hands on the ground. But the officer believed Shaver’s move forward was an attempt to get “a better firing position on us.”

The officer said he could no longer see Shaver’s right hand and worried that Shaver could have easily drawn on officers who were just feet away in a hallway outside his room.

“So that’s when I assessed the threat. I fired my weapon, uh, five times,” Brailsford said, adding that it was terrifying the first time Shaver reached back.

Mark Geragos, an attorney representing Shaver’s wife, Laney Sweet, disputes that his client wasn’t following police orders.

“She wants the body cam (footage) released just so everyone can see how ridiculous and outrageous this is,” Geragos said.

Brailsford’s attorney, Craig Mehrens, said his client is being judged on a split-second decision made when dealing with a man who had been drinking and ignored police orders.

“They are not to be judge with 20/20 hindsight,” Mehrens said.

The other records released by Mesa police show that Brailsford was accused of using inappropriate force when he and other officers took three people into custody several months before Shaver’s death. Brailsford also was accused of violating departmental policy by using a rifle that had profane language etched onto it.


Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/jacques-billeaud

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