An update on "the single worst police shooting of an innocent unarmed man in American history"
· Dec 6, 2022 ·

Perhaps you're not familiar with the infuriating killing of Daniel Shaver, a Texas man who should be alive today but who is dead because a cop shot him for no justifiable reason at all.

Shaver was 26 years old in January of 2016 when he was staying at a hotel in Mesa, Arizona on a business trip. A pest control specialist, Shaver was showing two friends a scoped air rifle he used to exterminate birds in grocery stores.

At one point, someone unwisely pointed the gun out the hotel window and the police were called:

The officers, led by Sergeant Charles Langley, stood in the corridor outside Shaver's hotel room and called out to the occupants to exit the room, but received no response. Portillo later testified that she and Shaver did not hear these initial commands. Police then telephoned Shaver's room and again ordered the occupants to step outside. Shaver and Portillo then walked into the hotel corridor, where Langley gave them orders for several minutes while the other officers, including Philip Brailsford, trained rifles on them. Portillo was taken into custody unharmed.

Shaver, however, was not "taken into custody unharmed;" he was killed:

Langley then ordered Shaver, who was lying prone at Langley's request, to cross his legs. Moments later, he ordered Shaver to push himself "up to a kneeling position". While complying with the order to kneel, Shaver uncrossed his legs and Langley shouted that Shaver needed to keep his legs crossed. Startled, Shaver then put his hands behind his back and was again warned by Langley to keep his hands in the air. Langley yelled at Shaver that if he deviated from police instructions again, they would shoot him.

If you're having multiple bizarre, confusing instructions shouted at you by a furiously sputtering red-faced cop who's pointing a rifle at you, you're going to be pretty disoriented. This is pretty basic stuff that even the most inept cop should know.


Sergeant Langley told Shaver not to put his hands down for any reason. Shaver said, "Please don't shoot me". Upon being instructed to crawl, Shaver put his hands down and crawled on all fours. While crawling towards the officers, Shaver moved his right hand towards his waistband. Brailsford, who later testified he believed that Shaver was reaching for a weapon, then opened fire with his AR-15 rifle, striking Shaver five times and killing him almost instantly. Shaver was unarmed and may have been attempting to prevent his shorts from slipping down.

A written description of the incident does not do justice to the sheer insanity of it. Here is the police bodycam footage:

WARNING: The following video is extremely graphic and depicts the death of an innocent person.

Unjust. Inexcusable. Brutal. Brailsford obviously faced severe legal consequences for this reckless disregard for human life, right?

Well, no:

Brailsford's trial for second-degree murder was originally scheduled for February 2017. A defense motion challenging the state's probable cause to send the case to trial; appeals to the Arizona Supreme Court over the release of controversially redacted footage from Brailsford's body camera made a February trial unrealistic. On February 10, 2017, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge George Foster rescheduled the trial for October 23, 2017. Brailsford faced up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of second-degree murder.

On December 7, 2017, after a six-week trial, a jury acquitted Brailsford of all charges.

Now, five years later almost to the day of Brailsford's acquittal, Shaver's family is getting at least some small measure of recompense:

The Arizona Republic reports that the town of Mesa, Arizona, reached an $8 million settlement last week with the widow of Daniel Shaver. Shaver is the unarmed man who was fatally shot while crawling down a hallway on his hands and knees toward police officers, begging them not to shoot him.

It's not enough, of course; the only real justice would be for Daniel Shaver to be alive, with his wife and children, instead of shot dead by a crazy, inept cop. As one commenter put it:

Single worst police shooting of an innocent unarmed man in American history. All on video. Not a single word from the media, no protests, no golden casket, and the killer will receive 31k a year for the rest of his life.

Disgraceful stuff.

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