Questions over assault weapon used by Mesa officer facing murder charge

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Questions being raised over Mesa police officer's gun used in deadly shooting (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Questions being raised over Mesa police officer's gun used in deadly shooting (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Laney Sweet spoke about seeing the body camera footage of the shooting that killed her husband (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Laney Sweet spoke about seeing the body camera footage of the shooting that killed her husband (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Mitch Brailsford leaving court after pleading not guilty to a second-degree murder charge (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Mitch Brailsford leaving court after pleading not guilty to a second-degree murder charge (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Mesa police officer charged with second-degree murder for an on-duty shooting in January pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance Tuesday.

Officer Philip Brailsford was released without bond.

"He is not a danger to the community," Craig Mehrens, Brailsford’s attorney said. "He has honorably served the community as a Mesa police officer and he was honorably serving the day he received the call [to the shooting scene].”

[READ MORE: Mesa officer pleads not guilty in shooting death of Texas man]

Attorneys for the victim, Daniel Shaver, argued Brailsford was malicious during the shooting and raised questions about the gun used.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said Shaver was on his hands and knees when Brailsford shot him five times inside a Mesa hotel.  The gun used was a personal AR-15 assault weapon that had been approved for service use by the Mesa Police Department.  However, Mesa police noted that their investigation of the shooting turned up a vulgar inscription on the rifle that doesn’t meet department policy.

“Inscripted on the officer’s gun, and I hate to use profanity, but it said, “you’re f*****,”’ Laney Sweet, Daniel Shaver’s wife said.

According to several sources, the rifle’s vulgar inscription is on the inside of the rifle’s dust cover.  The inscription is only visible if the dust cover is open, which happens automatically in order to eject spent rounds while the weapon is fired.

“That statement tells me this is a person who’s enthusiastic about killing people," Marc Victor, lawyer for Sweet and her late husband, argued. "That’s what that inscription means.”

After court, Mesa police said it's launching an internal investigation into the gun's inscription. 

Mesa police also said Chief John Meza has serious concerns about the shooting and has recommended the department fire Officer Brailsford.  Mesa police said it has begun the formal termination process and will be in talks with Brailsford this week over the issue.

[RELATED: Mesa PD recommends termination for officer involved in fatal shooting]

Police originally went to Shaver’s hotel room after guests at the La Quinta Inn just off the U.S. 60 in east Mesa called to say they saw someone in a fifth floor window holding a gun.  The gun turned out to be a pellet gun used in Shaver’s pest control job and he was unarmed when he and a woman answered the door after police arrived.

[READ MORE: Mesa police officer charged in fatal shooting]

The interaction was captured on police body cameras.  The video has not been released to the public but Sweet said she was allowed to view the video.

‘“Please don't shoot me,”’ Sweet said, quoting her husband, Shaver, talking to police moments before he was killed. "It’s traumatizing because it's so completely unjustified.  My husband did nothing.  So I think the video has to be released. We have to demand it.”

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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