If you haven’t seen the police body cam footage which shows the shooting of unarmed 26-year-old Daniel Shaver, I encourage you to watch it, to feel it, and to be incensed by it. This video is profoundly disturbing and epitomizes a critical issue that we must address as a nation.
Shaver, a traveling pest control employee from Texas, was in a hotel room in Mesa showing a friend the pellet gun he used for work killing birds that had flown inside businesses like Walmart. Six Mesa police officers responded to the call of a man whom guests below had mistakenly reported was pointing a rifle out a window.
The police footage shows a woman come around a corner in the hotel hallway greeted by the officers with weapons drawn. Within seconds she was followed by Shaver who immediately dropped to his knees and raised his arms in the air as the woman walked out of view, and the officer began to shout orders.
WARNING: Shocking footage of Arizona cop killing Daniel Shaver
Mesa Police Sgt. Charles Langley then engaged in a bizarre game of “Simon Says” with Shaver, barking a variety of orders at him to keep his arms down then up, to keep his legs crossed as he “stood” on his knees, yet to “crawl” toward the officers, which doesn’t seem physically possible. The contradictory orders seemed to cause increasing confusion. Several times Langley made it clear that if the suspect made one mistake, he would be killed.
As the video continues, Shaver’s fear is palpable as he begs for his life and tries to interpret the contradictory orders being shouted at him correctly. In confusion, Shaver appeared to try to crawl toward the officers, but at one point he reached near the waistband of his shorts, presumably because they were falling. That’s when an innocent man was shot five times by police officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford with his service weapon on which he had etched “You’re fucked.” Shaver died, but Brailsford was found not guilty of second-degree murder. Langley has since retired and left the country.
I have serious questions about why a suspect with guns drawn on him must wager his life on following confusing and contradictory instructions, and why the police department was not held accountable for such an atrocity. The investigator of the incident noted that there was no reason why Shaver couldn’t have been cuffed while on the floor. Does the Mesa Police Department have a standard arrest protocol? If not, why not, and if so, why was it not used?
This video is evidence of a botched arrest by Mesa police officers which resulted in the brutal and unnecessary death of an unarmed, innocent victim. Shaver’s death was entirely preventable had officers followed established department procedures instead of making up a cruel guessing game for the frightened and confused suspect.
The issue I address here is about more than police brutality; it’s about the frightening lack of accountability within law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Brailsford, the subordinate officer who fired the shots, stood trial for the murder of Shaver, yet his sergeant, Langley, faced no such consequences for having created the confusion which led to the shooting. I am appalled at the gross incompetence displayed by law enforcement officers in the arrest of this complaint, unarmed man, and the lack of repercussions faced by the officers and the department responsible.
In addition, insurers and taxpayers bear the financial responsibility for payouts in wrongful death lawsuits, instead of holding accountable those responsible through the officers’ unions and pension plans.
Justice cannot and will not be duly served when law enforcement agencies investigate the actions of their own departments. Watchdog investigative boards should include citizens and other neutral parties for a thorough and impartial review. Mr. Shaver’s death was an immoral and preventable travesty, and yet no one has been held accountable, and apparently, no one will in murders such as this, as long as police are allowed to police themselves