Mesa Police Officer Testifies He Didn’t Think Fatally Shot Man Was a Threat

Mesa Police officer Brian Elmore testified Tuesday in a former colleague’s murder trial that he didn’t shoot at an unarmed Texas man because he didn’t see an imminent threat.

Elmore testified over two days in the murder trial of former Mesa officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, 26, who is accused of unjustifiably shooting 26-year-old Daniel Shaver five times during a confrontation at a Mesa La Quinta Inn.

Shaver was killed in the Jan. 18, 2016 shooting. Brailsford is charged with one count of second-degree murder.

Brailsford’s defense lawyer has argued the shooting was justified because it appeared Shaver had been reaching for a weapon.

Deputy County Attorney Susie Charbel asked Elmore if he saw a threat shortly before Brailsford shot Shaver.

“At that moment, no,” said Elmore, one of six Mesa police officers who responded to the hotel.

Police were called afer a report of a person pointing a gun outside of a fifth-floor window. A couple in a hotel hot tub told staff that they saw a silhouette with a gun pointed out the window.

Officers later found that Shaver was unarmed when he was shot but had a pellet gun inside his room, which he kept with him as part of his job as a pest-control worker for his father-in-law’s Texas-based company.

Earlier in the trial, Monique Portillo and Luis Nuñez, who had met Shaver at a hotel elevator about half an hour before he was shot, testified.

Portillo and Nuñez both of New Mexico were in Mesa for a work-related trip and had been invited by Shaver to his room to have an alcoholic drink, they both testified.

Portillo testified Shaver and Nuñez both were playing with the pellet gun and inadvertently pointed it out the window. Nuñez has said it was just Shaver who pointed it out.

During the course of the trial, Charbel has said that among the six officers who responded that night, only Brailsford fired his weapon. As part of her argument, she has shown police video to the jury at least three times from two different angles from police on-body camera footage of the shooting.

In the video, Shaver appears confused by Mesa police Sgt. Charles Langley’s commands on what to do with his hands. At one point, Shaver puts his hands down and behind his back and Langley, who was in charge and the only one yelling out commands, quickly yells at him to put them back in the air or else he would be shot, the video shows.

Charbel pointed out that police training would indicate that a suspect who put his hands behind his back without being told so could be a deadly threat to officers. Still, no officer shot Shaver at that moment, she said.

Brailsford fired his AR-15 rifle at Shaver, who had been sobbing as he begged not to be shot when the Texas man tried to quickly raise his right hand after he started to crawl on his hands and knees, the video shows.

Brailsford’s defense lawyer, Michael Piccarreta, argued that any reasonable officer would have shot Brailsford based on his right-hand movement because it looked like he was reaching for a weapon either out of his pocket or his waistband.

“To a competent law enforcement officer under the circumstances like this that was a very threatening gesture,” Piccarreta said.

At a time when active shooters situations have become more common, such tragedies were in Elmore’s mind when he responded to the call, the officer testified.

“I did think about some high-profile situations going on around the country,” he told the jury.

Still, he said, he didn’t shoot because he didn’t see the same threat as Brailsford, who was standing on the left side of Shaver several feet away when officers encountered him.

Piccarreta asked Elmore if he had been standing where Brailsford was standing, would he have shot Shaver.

“It’s possible,” Elmore responded.

Answering a question from a jury member, Elmore later said that one officer’s verbal threats don’t give another officer permission to do anything.

The trial continues Monday when Langley is expected to testify.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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