Each day brings new details about the Mesa police shooting that left Texas resident Daniel Shaver, 26, dead and a Mesa police officer charged with murder.
On Wednesday, one day after the Mesa Police Department released dozens of reports, pictures and audio interviews connected with the case, leaders of the Mesa police union are convinced that the January shooting by Officer Philip "Mitch" Brailsford was justified.
“I'm amazed that the county attorney's office chose to press charges against Officer Brailsford because everything in this report supports his statements about what he saw and supports the actions that he took. I'm wondering why charges were filed and what the pressure was that caused the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to file these charges,” said Nathan Schlitz, executive director of the Mesa Police Association.
The union represents more than 600 sworn and civilian members of the Mesa Police Department.
Schlitz said after reading through the documents and the accounts of officers on the scene, there is no doubt in his mind Brailsford did what he had to do in eliminated the threat Shaver posed.
Officers responded to a Mesa La Quinta Inn after a 911 call about a man pointing a rifle out the fith floor window of the hotel.
Officers took position in the hallway and ordered Shaver and a woman, Monique Portillo, to exit the hotel room and crawl toward officers. Portillo, who had met Shaver in a hotel elevator and was drinking alcohol with him, complied with police orders and wasn't hurt. Portillo told officers there had been a third person in the room, but that person left before the police arrived.
The reports released include several officer accounts that Shaver, while crying and pleading for his life, also failed to follow commands to keep his hands where officers could see them.
Shaver was on his hands and knees crawling toward the officers, who again order him to not move his hands behind his back or he would be shot. According to the reports, Shaver suddenly moved his right hand toward his waistband and that’s when Brailsford fired his AR-15 rifle five times.
"In the report, it's documented numerous times that many officers saw the same movement. They all perceived it as a threat. Besides Officer Brailsford, who fired his weapon, another officer with lethal coverage began to raise his weapon up to fire, as well. Fortunately or unfortunately, however you look at it, Officer Brailsford was quicker to his action to stop the threat. Then there's an officer with a Taser who began to raise up the Taser to fire it. But again they're thinking that there's a lethal threat so Officer Brailsford was justifiable in using lethal force against that perceived threat,” said Schlitz.
We obtained a copy of the autopsy report. It confirms that Shaver’s blood alcohol level was .29, which is more than three-times the legal driving limit.
It also indicated that all five rounds from the AR-15 either hit or grazed Shaver. There were shots to Shaver’s right leg, his chest, a face graze, a shot to the back of his neck and the back of his shoulder.
“When you have a threat like that you have to react to it. You can't second guess later on and say, ‘Well, maybe he was just trying to pull up his shorts.’” At that point, we know that we're there for a subject with a weapon and with his actions, he kind of forced our hand and forced the officers hand,” said Schlitz.
We reached out repeated to Mark Geragos, the high-profile attorney representing Shaver’s wife in her wrongful death claim against the City of Mesa. He had not yet responded. But his latest post on Twitter gives us insight into his position.
Geragos re-posted a picture of Shaver from a Justice For Daniel handle and wrote, “This would be a Death Penalty case if the shooter was a civilian.”
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