By William Ginsberg
On January 18, 2016 in Mesa, Arizona, Daniel Shaver was murdered. He was murdered by a police officer, and like we have seen so many times in the past, there was no justice. Officer Philip Brailsford was acquitted. Just a few days ago the footage of the killing was released.
The police were called to the la Quinta Inn and Suites because of a man with a gun. That gun was actually just a pellet gun. The officers were in the hallway when Daniel Shaver and a woman exited their room. Immediately the officers order them to get down on the ground. The woman crawled down the hallway as instructed by the officers and was subdued.
What happened next was unnecessary and illogical. What should’ve happened is one officer points his gun at Shaver, while the other officer approaches Shaver. At this point Shaver would still be lying face down. The officer would then handcuff Shaver and search him for weapons, which he would find none of, as Shaver was unarmed. Instead they ordered him to crawl to them. Instead of speaking with calm yet firm voices, they yelled. They ramped up the situation. They acted exactly how they shouldn’t have.
Daniel Shaver crawled towards Officer Brailsford. At this point Daniel Shaver was crying. He is scared for his life. But it didn’t matter. Officer Brailsford was on a power trip. Daniel Shaver moved to pull his pants up, which had slipped from crawling. As one officer yelled don’t, Officer Brailsford opened fire, shooting five rounds. It is clear that Mr. Shaver was no threat at least to me. His hand was open and right above the ground when the officer fired. He was ready to begin crawling again. Immediately I recognized that Shaver had no weapon. While it is easy for me to identify Shaver had no weapon now, it is likely much harder in a life and death situation. Still this is exactly what officers are trained for. In an active shooter situations, officers have to make a split second situation, they must identify whether someone is a threat or not. In our military, when our Marines were going door to door in Fallujah, Iraq, they had to make split second decisions. Is the person I am staring dead in the face a threat or not? If they made a mistake they would be killed or they would’ve killed a civilian. They didn’t make those mistakes.
Was Officer Brailsford poorly trained, maybe he reacted rationally in fear for his life and fear of his partners life? No to both, the truth is far more sinister. The truth is that Officer Brailsford was looking for an excuse to kill Daniel Shaver.
But what proof do I have? What could possibly suggest this? After all, what makes this case so hard to get a conviction for is because we can’t truly know what the officer was thinking. Engraved on the officers rifle were the words “you’re fucked.” The judge withheld this from the jury as he believed that it was “totally prejudicial.” This was a relevant piece of evidence. It demonstrates not only how the officer was unprofessional, but more importantly it shows that Officer Brailsford had a desire for blood, that whomever is looking down the barrel of his gun, is “fucked,” that they may not survive, that he is going to do what it takes to get a situation in which him shooting the suspect could be considered justified.
If we ignored every other part of the video, if we had just those few seconds, the few seconds where Daniel Shaver reached behind his back, perhaps I would’ve said, “Officer Brailsford,” isn’t guilty. But we have everything before it, we have context. We have video of Officer Brailsford being unnecessarily aggressive. We saw that Officer Brailsford was on a power trip, we saw him act with utter incompetence, we saw Daniel Shaver try as hard as possible to follow the officers orders, we saw Daniel Shaver cry for his life, we saw Officer Brailsford pump five rounds of lead into Daniel Shavers body, we saw two young girls lose their father, and we saw an innocent father and man lose his life. Then we saw Officer Brailsford get off.
Not guilty. No Justice.