Feds Subpoena Mesa, Arizona, Police in Fatal Shooting

PHOENIX (CN) — The Department of Justice has subpoenaed records from the Mesa Police Department for a civil rights investigation of a former officer who shot an unarmed man to death as he crawled along the floor at an Arizona hotel in 2016.

The Mesa Police Department said Thursday night that the Department of Justice has requested all of its records on the fatal shooting of Daniel Shaver.

“We will comply and provide any records requested,” the police department said in a statement.

Mesa police Officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford killed Daniel Shaver, 26, at a La Quinta Inn & Suites in Mesa on Jan. 18, 2016.

Brailsford was fired two months later and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office charged him with second-degree murder.

The nearly three-month trial last year and hinged on Brailsford’s argument that the shooting was justified. Brailsford claimed he saw Shaver reach toward the waistband of his basketball shorts and thought he was armed, and that he responded according with to his training at the police academy.

The shooting came amid nationwide calls for law enforcement agencies to end deadly use-of-force tactics, but not gain much attention until after Brailsford was acquitted of second-degree murder on Dec. 7 last year.

Immediately after the acquittal, body camera footage of the shooting was made public for the first time, prompting cries for a civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice.

The body-cam footage showed Shaver leave his hotel room and enter the hallway in a T-shirt and basketball shorts.

He faced six police officers and was instructed to lie on the ground, cross his feet, and put his hands on his head. Then he was told to crawl toward the officers. In the footage, Shaver can be heard crying, and pleading with officers, “Please, don’t shoot.”

Brailsford shot Shaver five times with his AR-15 rifle.

The prosecution said Shaver was merely trying to pull up his basketball shorts as he crawled on the floor.

Police had been called after a couple in the hotel Jacuzzi said they saw Shaver handling a rifle in his room.

Shaver, of Granbury, Texas, had two pellet guns in his hotel room to use for his job in pest control. No gun was found on his body.

“As a reminder, the Mesa Police Department terminated Philip Mitchell Brailsford in March 2016 and partnered with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to pursue second degree murder charges against Mr. Brailsford,” Mesa police said in the statement.

Brailsford was fired after an internal investigation found his AR-15 used in the shooting was etched with the words, “You’re Fucked.”

That evidence was not entered into the trial last year after a judge found it inadmissible.

Shaver was a father of two.

His widow, Laney Sweet, and his parents, Norma and Grady Shaver, have sued Brailsford and the Mesa Police Department for wrongful death and civil rights violations. The suit is pending in Phoenix Federal Court

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