Daniel Shaver, a 26-year-old husband and father of two from Texas, was on a business trip to Arizona on January 18, when a police officer shot and killed him in a La Quinta Inn & Suites - as he begged for his life. Now, according to The Arizona Republic, the officer, Philip "Mitch" Brailsford, is charged with second-degree murder and fired from the Mesa, Arizona police force.
The story of Shaver's death and the aftermath is heartbreaking, angering and, in part, confusing.
A report that includes eye-witness accounts, audio and video of the incident reveals that Shaver was on the ground, crying and crawling towards Brailsford while he pleaded for his life. "Please don't shoot me," Shaver said. But Brailsford unloaded five rounds from his AR-15 rifle into Shaver, who died in a hotel hallway from the bullet wounds.
Shaver's wife, Laney Sweet, has spent the last several months seeking justice for her husband's death and now that Brailsford is facing charges, she's trying to ensure he doesn't strike a plea deal. "I can't bring him back, but I will fight for justice for him," she told The Arizona Republic. "My kids are absolutely heartbroken and I can't fix it."
In an emotionally charged Facebook post, Sweet has described not knowing what happened to her husband for a full 48 hours after his death. "I had to do my own investigating after not hearing from him/him not showing up to work, that led me to call every hospital, jail and police station searching for answers," she wrote.
"Unfortunately, I did finally find him when calling the local coroner. No one had the respect or empathy to call me and our children and tell us that Daniel had been taken from us. Not only that, but not one detective assigned to the case has called me back after leaving voice mails seeking answers."
"He was my best friend," she continued. "The love of my life. A son. A brother. Many people's friend. The glue that held me together. He was madly in love with his two daughters."
Shaver spent 25 days out of every month on the road, according to Sweet, who said her husband handled pest removal for companies. Part of his job, The Washington Post said, included bringing pellet guns with him where he traveled.
On the evening of Jan. 18, Shaver was in his hotel room with a man and a woman. Reports say Shaver was likely intoxicated. A person outside the hotel notified authorities that someone inside one of the rooms had a rifle. At some point, The Washington Post reported, the man left the room and police arrived, calling Shaver and asking him to step into the hallway.
Body camera-footage, according to The Arizona Republic, shows Shaver on the ground, his hands above his head. Shaver tried to raise himself up at one point, when an officer, according to the Republic, told him they'd shoot him if he did that again. "No, please don't shoot me," Shaver said.
Shaver didn't seem to have a weapon and acting on an officer's orders, he started crawling towards the police. When he reached the woman's purse, which was in the hallway, he made a move to crawl past it. Brailsford, noticing Shaver's hand reach toward his body, yelled "don't" before shooting him five times. Brailsford told investigators "a million things" raced through his head during the incident and that he felt threatened by Shaver on the ground, according to The Washington Post.
"The use of deadly physical force by law enforcement is governed by Arizona law and is always a tragedy when the loss of life results," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said, according to The Arizona Republic. "After carefully reviewing the relevant facts and circumstances, we have determined that the use of deadly physical force was not justified in this instance."
In the wake of Shaver's death, his widow's Facebook page has become a regularly chronicle or mourning and sadness.
She has started a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of general life expenses as well as legal fees. So far, she's raised nearly $25,000.