Closing arguments set to begin in trial of former Mesa officer accused of murder

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Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, 27, is accused of shooting and killing an unarmed Texas man while responding to a call at a Mesa hotel in 2016. (Source: Pool) Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, 27, is accused of shooting and killing an unarmed Texas man while responding to a call at a Mesa hotel in 2016. (Source: Pool)
Brailsford testified last week he opened fire because he thought the man, Daniel Shaver, was reaching for a gun. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Brailsford testified last week he opened fire because he thought the man, Daniel Shaver, was reaching for a gun. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Criminal defense attorney Jason Lamm, who is not involved with the trial, said Brailsford’s attorneys will use their closing argument to build a case that he acted in self-defense. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Criminal defense attorney Jason Lamm, who is not involved with the trial, said Brailsford’s attorneys will use their closing argument to build a case that he acted in self-defense. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Prosecutors have argued the shooting was unjustified. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Prosecutors have argued the shooting was unjustified. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday in the trial of a former Mesa police officer charged with second-degree murder.

Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, 27, is accused of shooting and killing an unarmed Texas man while responding to a call at a Mesa hotel in 2016.

Prosecutors have argued the shooting was unjustified. Brailsford testified last week he opened fire because he thought the man, Daniel Shaver, was reaching for a gun.

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

Criminal defense attorney Jason Lamm, who is not involved with the trial, said Brailsford’s attorneys will use their closing argument to build a case that he acted in self-defense. That poses an added layer of difficulty for the prosecution, he said.

“The prosecutor will get the first closing argument and it's going to be critical for the prosecutor to argue that this was an intentional killing. But uniquely under Arizona law, it's the state that has the burden of disproving that he acted in self-defense,” Lamm said.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Mesa police officer shoots, kills unarmed man in motel]

Lamm said there are clues, based on the questions the prosecutor asked Brailsford during cross-examination, that the state may ask the jury to consider lesser charges in addition to second-degree murder, like manslaughter and negligent homicide.

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

“But if it's self-defense, it's a not guilty verdict across the board,” he said.

“In my opinion, although I've been wrong before, I think this case resolves in a not guilty verdict,” Lamm said.

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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