PHOENIX (CN) – An unarmed man shot and killed by a former Mesa, Arizona, police officer pleaded with police not to shoot him moments before his death, a witness testified Thursday morning at the officer’s murder trial.
Philip “Mitch” Brailsford is charged with one count of second-degree murder in the death of Daniel Shaver, a 26-year-old shot and killed in 2016 during a police encounter at a La Quinta Inn & Suites in Mesa.
“Please don’t shoot me,” were the words Monique Portillo heard Shaver tell police, according to Portillo’s testimony. “He was just crying for his life.”
Shaver had invited Portillo and her co-worker, Luis Nunez, into his room for shots of liquor after meeting them in the hotel hallway that evening.
While in his room, Portillo said she noticed a large case that looked like it held an instrument. When she asked Shaver if he played an instrument, he said he didn’t and showed her and Nunez. Portillo said Shaver told them it was an air rifle.
“It had a scope on it. It was pretty big, it was long,” Portillo said. “It looked like a hunting gun.”
Shaver and Nunez moved over by the window of the hotel room to look out the scope of the rifle, she said.
“I looked at my surroundings like hey, this doesn’t look right,” Portillo testified. She told the men to move away from the window.
Unbeknownst to them, two guests in the hotel jacuzzi saw the men handling the air rifle through the window of Shaver’s hotel room. They reported it to the hotel, which in turn called the Mesa police.
Nunez later left the room, leaving Portillo and Shaver behind to talk.
After a few minutes, the phone in the hotel room began to ring.
“The phone rings, and that’s when Daniel tells me that the Mesa police wants me to come out of the room,” Portillo said.
She recounted the events that happened once she left the room.
“They were just all in black, and they had their guns pointed at me,” Portillo told the court.
Prosecutor Susie Charbel asked Portillo how that made her feel.
“Very shaky, scared. Like I feel right now,” she said. “I try to block out that day.”
One of the officers told her to fall to her knees, put her hands up and crawl down the hallway toward them, she recalled.
Once she got to them, she was handcuffed and sat on the floor.
From there she could see Shaver try to follow the same commands.
“They were asking Daniel to come out, and I don’t know, it just happened so fast. He came out, and I remember them saying we are going to do the same thing,” Portillo said, choking back tears. “As he was crawling out, I guess his shorts were falling down because of the material, they were basketball shorts … and they shot him.”
Shaver’s wife and parents, present in the courtroom, cried through Portillo’s account of his final moments.
Brailsford, who fired a number of shots at Shaver from his AR-15 rifle, says the shooting was justified since he saw Shaver reach toward the waistband of his basketball shorts.
The defense claims that the use of force was proper given the training Brailsford received at the police academy, and that Shaver’s actions caused the shooting.
Last week, the jury saw footage of the incident taken from Brailsford’s body camera.
It was the first time the video had been shown publicly containing the actual shooting. A previous released version had been edited.
The trial continues Monday.
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