Moments before a Mesa, Arizona, police officer killed Daniel Shaver with five shots from an AR-15, Shaver was on all fours, pleading with officers not to shoot him, according to a newly released police report from the incident.
Shaver, a twenty-six-year-old from Texas, was killed on January 18. Philip Brailsford, the two-year Mesa Police Department officer who allegedly killed him, was fired from the department and charged with second-degree murder.
Shaver was staying at a Mesa La Quinta Inn on a work-related trip when he was killed, according to a local ABC affiliate. The police report (viewable in full here) alleges that officers received a call about a man pointing a rifle out Shaver’s fifth-floor hotel window.
According to the police report, the officers who responded asked Shaver and a woman he was with to exit the room. Shaver exited, then raised his hands and dropped to his knees. An officer told him to lay on the ground, and he did. He was “obviously compliant and offered no resistance at that point,” the report reads. Then, Shaver was ordered to put his hands behind his head, cross his legs, and not move. If he moved, the officer told him, he would be considered a threat, and “may not survive it.”
The officers then ordered the woman Shaver was with to crawl towards them, and ordered Shaver back to a kneeling position. “If you do that again, we’re shooting you. Do you understand?” an officer asked him, apparently referencing Shaver’s failure to immediately raise his hands as he kneeled. “No, please don’t shoot me,” Shaver replied. At around this point, according to the report, he began sobbing.
Officers ordered Shaver to crawl toward them, and he complied, “audibly sobbing” as he did so. As he crawled, he briefly moved his hand toward his waist and back toward his body, and Officer Brailsford began shooting.
“The movement of SHAVER’s right arm in the recording was a very similar motion to someone drawing a pistol from their waist band,” the report reads. However, it continues, “SHAVER’s underwear were clearly visible and it appeared his shorts had fallen partially down his leg at that point. SHAVER’s motion was also consistent with attempting to pull his shorts up as they were falling off.”
Monique Portillo, the woman who was with Shaver, told police that she was also staying at the hotel on business, and that she and a male coworker had met Shaver in the elevator. Shaver invited them to do shots in his room, and when they arrived, Portillo asked Shaver about a case in the room, which she thought might contain a musical instrument. Shaver opened it, revealing the rifle and a dead sparrow. He told Portillo that he worked for Walmart and that his job was to kill birds that made their way into the store. (The store does apparently employ people to shoot and kill birds.)
Shaver and the other man began playing with the rifle, according to Portillo, pointing it out the window as they did so. Luis Nunez, the other man, left the room to call his wife before police arrived, Portillo said.
The report’s detailed description of Shaver’s death is sourced from an interview with Portillo and from body camera footage from one of the officers, which Mesa police have not released. Both state prosecutors and Brailsford’s defense attorneys are arguing that the footage should remain sealed.
BuzzFeed News notes that Laney Sweet, Shaver’s widow, recorded a conversation in which a prosecutor told her she could view the body camera footage, but only if she did not speak to the media about it. She declined, and uploaded audio of the conversation to YouTube.
Sweet also said in the video that prosecutors told her they planned to offer Brailsford a plea deal for negligent homicide—a lesser charge.