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Philip Brailsford update: Fate of former Mesa officer charged with murder in hands of jury

Posted at 7:31 PM, Dec 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-06 00:16:57-05

A jury must decide whether a former Mesa police officer made a reasonable decision to fatally shoot an unarmed suspect or if he acted with excessive force.

A full day of deliberations are ahead for the jury after closing arguments Tuesday in the trial of Philip "Mitch" Brailsford.

Brailsford was a Mesa police officer in January 2016. He shot and killed an unarmed man, Daniel Shaver, while responding to a call of a man with a rifle at a Mesa hotel. 

Defense attorney Mike Piccarreta argued the last thing Brailsford wanted to do that night was to shoot someone, because the young officer's goal was to save and protect life. 

According to Brailsford, he had to make a split-second decision to shoot when he believed Shaver was reaching for a gun.

"We don't have to prove our innocence," Piccarreta said. "His innocence is presumed. So your job is to critically examine the state's case."

The prosecutor said Brailsford made a reckless decision that a reasonable officer would not make. She argued Shaver was clearly not a threat.

"A police officer does not get to execute a begging, crying, unarmed citizen because he believes, without proof, he has some hidden handgun," said Deputy Maricopa County attorney Susie Charbel.

The jury could come back with guilty verdicts on second-degree murder, reckless manslaughter, aggravated assault, or an acquittal of all charges.