- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - A judge on Tuesday ordered the release of portions of body-camera video of an Arizona police officer fatally shooting an unarmed man.

The order was issued after the widow of the man and news organizations called for the footage to be unsealed to hold police accountable and serve the public interest.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sam Myers said portions of the 18-minute video should remain under seal until the trial of Officer Philip Brailsford to protect his right to a fair trial and impartial jury.

It’s wasn’t immediately clear when the video, which must be edited before its release, will be made public.

Brailsford, 25, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the Jan. 18 death of Daniel Shaver of Granbury, Texas, outside his hotel room in Mesa. Brailsford was later fired for violations of departmental policies, officials said.

Officers were called to the hotel on a report that someone was pointing a gun out a window.

Investigators say the video shows Shaver, as he was on the ground outside his hotel room, pleading with officers not to kill him. Officers at the scene say they believed Shaver was reaching for a gun.

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

Brailsford, prosecutors and Shaver’s parents argued that the video shouldn’t be released to protect Brailsford’s right to a fair trial.

William Richards, a lawyer for Shaver’s widow, said the effort to prevent the release was aimed at keeping basic information from the public. He added that the video should be released to hold police accountable.

“Are they truthful?” Richards asked about police reports from the scene. “Are they complete?”

Prosecutor Susie Charbel urged the judge to keep the video under seal. “We continue to say there is nothing to be gained,” Charbel said.

Police shooting videos have become the focal point of protests around the country. Chicago officials fought for more than a year to withhold a video showing a teenager getting shot by a police officer, and the court-ordered release of the footage prompted heated protests against Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Associated Press, Arizona Republic, 12 News (KPNX-TV), ABC15 (KNXV-TV), CBS 5 (KPHO-TV) and 3 TV (KTVK) petitioned the court to release the video in the Arizona case.

The judge ruled on Monday that prosecutors have presented enough evidence to move forward with the case against Brailsford.


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

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