Witness Says Unarmed Man Fatally Shot By Mesa Police Officer Begged For His Life

Daniel Shaver cried for his life before a Mesa police officer shot and killed him, a woman who met Shaver about half an hour before his death testified Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Monique Portillo, 35, testified in the trial of former Mesa Officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, whom prosecutors accuse of unjustifiably shooting Shaver.

Brailsford, 26, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the on-duty shooting on Jan. 18, 2016, at a Mesa La Quinta Inn, where Shaver was staying.

Portillo, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, told the jury she heard Shaver say, “Don’t shoot me,” before Brailsford fired.

“He was just crying for his life,” Portillo said.

Police had responded to the hotel for a call about a person pointing a gun outside of a fifth-floor window. A couple inside a hotel hot tub told staff that they saw a silhouette with a gun pointed toward a nearby highway.

Police later found that Shaver, 26, 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.

Brailsford has said he shot Shaver because he thought Shaver had been reaching for a gun when he made a movement with his right hand toward his waist, according to court records.

Portillo and Luis Nuñez were in Mesa on a work-related trip that day from New Mexico. After dinner, they were on their way to their fifth-floor room at the hotel when they bumped into Shaver, who was standing outside his room holding a bottle of Bacardi rum and a PlayStation game console controller, Portillo said.

Nuñez began to talk to Shaver, who invited the two into his room for a shot of rum, Portillo said. Once inside, Portillo asked if Shaver played a musical instrument because she noticed a large case, she said.

Shaver said no and took out the pellet gun, which Portillo said looked like a hunting rifle. By this time, she had poured two shots of rum for Shaver and Nuñez, but she doesn’t remember if Nuñez or Shaver drank them, she said.

Shaver then showed Nuñez the gun, Portillo said, and they were looking through the rifle’s scope as the gun was pointed toward the window, she said. She closed the window’s drapes and pushed the gun away from the window as Nuñez held it, she said.

“Hey, guys, don’t be so close to the window, people may get the wrong idea,” Portillo recalled telling the men.

“It was like a toy to them,” she told the 11-member jury.

Half an hour after they first entered Shaver’s room, Nuñez got a call from his wife and scurried out of the room, Portillo said. She said she was uncomfortable being alone with Shaver but didn’t want to be rude and walk out like Nuñez had just done, she said.

A few minutes later, Shaver’s room phone rang once and he picked it up. Shaver looked confused and said, “Mesa police wants you to step out,” Portillo testified.

She grabbed her belongings and was under the impression she needed to get out of the building, she said.

She was surprised to see what she remembered as eight police officers, four on their knees and four standing up, in the hallway with their guns pointed at her, she said.

“There were red dots all over me,” she said. “I was shaky, scared.”

She said she remembered being told by an officer to get on her knees, with her hands up in the air and eventually crawled toward the officers on her hands and knees. A police video depicting the shooting that was played for the jury early in the trial showed her crawling toward the officers with her hands up in the air.

After being handcuffed and put on her knees by a police officer, she saw Shaver on his knees. As he crawled toward officers, she said, Shaver tried to pull his shorts up with his right hand because they were falling down. That’s when Brailsford fired five rounds, killing Shaver.

During cross-examination, Brailsford’s lawyer, Michael Piccarreta, read an excerpt of Portillo’s interview with police shortly after the shooting in which she said Shaver had been shot because “he didn’t follow protocol.”

What the police officers saw was a threat when Shaver raised his right hand because he may have been reaching for a gun, Mesa Officer Christopher Doane testified earlier this week. Doane, who was among the six officers who responded to the call, had been pointing a Taser at Shaver while his colleagues pointed their firearms, he said.

He also said he remembers Shaver crying. Still, he said, he didn’t believe Shaver’s tears were genuine because it appeared he was faking it in order to get some sort of advantage against the officers.

The trial resumes next week, when Nuñez is scheduled to testify.

Source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/mesa/2017/11/02/witness-man-shot-ex-mesa-police-officer-cried-his-life/826430001/