Ex-Mesa police officer who shot, killed unarmed man found not guilty of murder

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Brailsford in court. (Source: Pool) Brailsford in court. (Source: Pool)
Ex-Mesa cop Philip "Mitch" Brailsford was charged in the on-duty shooting death of Daniel Shaver at the La Quinta Inn. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Ex-Mesa cop Philip "Mitch" Brailsford was charged in the on-duty shooting death of Daniel Shaver at the La Quinta Inn. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Officers went to the hotel on a call that Shaver was pointing a rifle out a window. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Officers went to the hotel on a call that Shaver was pointing a rifle out a window. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Brailsford shot Shaver with an AR-15 with vulgar language etched on it, which was later thrown out as evidence by the judge. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Brailsford shot Shaver with an AR-15 with vulgar language etched on it, which was later thrown out as evidence by the judge. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Ex-Mesa police officer Philip "Mitch" Brailsford was found not guilty of second-degree murder after he shot and killed an unarmed man at a Mesa hotel in January 2016.

He was also found not guilty of reckless manslaughter.

[RELATED: Mesa police release dramatic body camera video following Brailsford verdict]

Brailsford was charged in the on-duty shooting death of Daniel Shaver at the La Quinta Inn. Officers went to the hotel on a call that someone was pointing a rifle out a window.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Murder trial of ex-Mesa officer Philip 'Mitch' Brailsford]

Brailsford claimed he thought Shaver was reaching for a gun when police were trying to take him into custody and was refusing police commands. Officers later learned Shaver did not have a gun and only found two pellet rifles related to his pest-control job in his room.

[RAW VIDEO: Verdict read in murder trial of ex-Mesa police officer]

The former cop said he was doing what he was trained to do when he saw a threat.

"I was doing what I needed to do to protect my fellow men and the woman we had just taken into custody," Brailsford said while on the stand.

[RELATED: Testimony over in murder trial of ex-Mesa police officer]

[READ MORE: Wife of man shot, killed by police at Mesa hotel files $35M notice of claim]

Brailsford testified that he believed Shaver, who was from Texas, was reaching for a gun in the waistband of his shorts. During Brailsford's testimony, prosecutor Susie Charbel challenged Brailsford's memory of the events of the shooting because he did not remember some of the details of what happened that night.

"I'm not perfect, and I had my Axon body camera running at the time," said Brailsford. "So, that was going to be the best type of recording that we could have."

Leading up to the shooting, Brailsford and his supervisor told Shaver and a woman to come out of Room 502 but got no response. After the phone rang inside the room, Brailsford said a man and a woman came out of the room.

[READ MORE: Former Mesa police officer on trial for murder testifies]

He testified that the woman followed commands and was taken into custody unhurt. Shaver was ordered to lie face-down in a hotel hallway. Brailsford said Shaver disobeyed orders to not put his hands behind him on a couple of occasions.

"For some reason, he placed his hands behind his back," said Brailsford. "For one, I don't know why he did that."  

Brailsford fired at Shaver after he said Shaver reached behind him again, this time in what he described was a classic "draw stroke," as if reaching for a gun.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Officer-involved shooting at a Mesa La Quinta Inn leaves man dead]

Shaver can be heard on Brailsford's body camera video saying, "Please do not shoot me."

Before the testimony ended, Brailsford reiterated that he 100 percent believed Shaver was reaching for a gun and that if in the same situation again, he would make the same decision.

The detectives investigating the shooting agreed that Shaver's movement was similar to reaching for a pistol but also said it looked like Shaver was pulling up his loose-fitting basketball shorts, which had fallen. The investigator had noted he didn't see anything that would have prevented officers from simply handcuffing Shaver as he was on the floor.

The woman who was taken into custody, Monique Portillo, testified as the only civilian eyewitness to the shooting of Shaver. 

[RELATED: Former officer charged with murder will testify]

[MORE: Reports shed light on fatal Mesa police shooting]

Portillo said she and a male co-worker met Shaver about an hour before he was shot in the hallway of the hotel. The three of them were all there on business and were staying in separate rooms, but Shaver invited them up to his room for a drink. Once inside, the two men started admiring one of the pellet rifles Shaver had with him.

Portillo said she warned the guys as they passed the rifle back and forth and pointed it out the window of the fifth-floor hotel room, checking out the scopes.

"I was like, 'Hey, you guys, don't be so close to the window. People may get the wrong idea,'" said Portillo.

Shortly after, the Mesa police officers were called to the hotel.

[MORE: Jurors in Arizona see video of officer killing unarmed man]

Portillo said she did exactly as asked by the officers while at gunpoint. Portillo was still in the hall when Shaver was ordered to do the same thing.

“As he was crawling out, I guess his shorts were falling down because of the material of his basketball shorts. And trying to crawl with your hands up this way, I mean out of reaction, you’re going to try to pull up your shorts. And he … he … they shot him,” said Portillo.

[RELATED: Parents of unarmed man killed by police sue Mesa, police officers]

She also told officers she believed Shaver was shot because he didn't follow protocol.

Brailsford served as a Mesa officer for about two years before he was fired for violations of departmental policy, including unsatisfactory performance.

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