MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – The Mesa police officer who was fired after shooting and killing an unarmed man at a La Quinta Inn in January 2016 was rehired by the Mesa Police Department more than two years later and is now medically retired -- and drawing a pension.
Former Officer Philip "Mitch" Brailsford was terminated on March 21, 2016. He appealed the decision the next day.
"The appeal was held in abeyance until the criminal case against Mr. Brailsford was concluded," City of Mesa spokesman Kevin Christopher told Arizona's Family in an emailed statement. (See his full statement at the bottom of this story.)
Brailsford was tried for second-degree murder in the shooting death of Daniel Shaver.
A jury acquitted him on Dec. 7, 2017.
In August 2018, Brailsford signed an agreement with the City of Mesa outlining the terms of his rehiring "for the sole and limited purpose of allowing Brailsford to file an application for Accidental Disability-Medical Retirement …."
Brailsford's hiring was only on paper.
"This agreement eliminated the need for a Mesa Personnel Appeals Board hearing," Christopher said.
The agreement clearly states "that his rehiring does not confer upon him any right to be assigned any duties, to perform any work, or to receive any compensation or other employee benefits as a Mesa Police Officer" while awaiting a decision on his application.
According to the agreement, the City of Mesa would reimburse Brailsford "for reasonable medical expenses arising out of his treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD") … from the first date of his medical treatment for PTSD … up to the date of determination by the Local Board."
The Public Safety Personnel Retirement System Local Board "determined that Mr. Brailsford met the qualifications for medical retirement citing information provided by multiple independent medical professionals," Christopher said. "Mr. Brailsford is now medically retired through PSPRS."
According to PSPRS, Brailsford's monthly benefit is about $2,500.
Retired Mesa Police Officer Bill Richardson says he was shocked by the decision.
“It just made me want to throw up for a lot of different reasons. He was charged for a reason. And the charging standards to charge a police officer in Maricopa County are extremely high. Just because a jury comes back with a not guilty verdict doesn't mean they didn’t do it,” said Richardson.
Brailsford's been receiving his monthly benefits for nearly a year. His medical retirement was not made public till now. That's a fact that bothers Richardson.
“And the City could have come forth when it started and said, 'Look, this is what we're doing. This is why we're doing it. We're afraid of being sued,’” said Richardson. “If they'd had just been honest about it, but the idea that it happened in secret and discovered by the press and not by the city coming forth really sends the wrong message to the people that they want to trust them."
Richardson also says this might cast a shadow on the police department, even though the department had likely no say in this. This decision was ultimately made by the City of Mesa.
As for the gun Brailsford used that day, he owned it himself and was allowed to carry it on duty.
During the initial investigation, Mesa PD discovered vulgar inscription on the rifle that did not meet department policy. Inside of the rifle’s dust cover were the words "You're F***ed."
In February of this year, Brailsford filed for bankruptcy. In that paperwork, his lists three firearms as assets. One, an AR-15, the same kind he used the day Shaver was killed.
Kevin Christopher's full statement
Philip ‘Mitch’ Brailsford was terminated by the Mesa Police Department on March 21, 2016. Mr. Brailsford, through his attorney, requested an appeal of his dismissal on March 22, 2016. The appeal was held in abeyance until the criminal case against Mr. Brailsford was concluded. On December 7, 2017, Mr. Brailsford was acquitted. On August 23, 2018, a settlement agreement between the City of Mesa and Mr. Brailsford allowed him to file for accidental disability and a medical retirement with the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System Local Board. This agreement eliminated the need for a Mesa Personnel Appeals Board hearing. During the time that Mr. Brailsford was making his application for medical retirement, he was not paid and was not assigned any police officer duties. The one-year timeframe to apply for an accidental disability pension began for Mr. Brailsford once the trial concluded. The PSPRS Local Board determined that Mr. Brailsford met the qualifications for medical retirement citing information provided by multiple independent medical professionals. Mr. Brailsford is now medically retired through PSPRS.