Judge rules there is cause to charge Brailsford

Judge rules there is cause to charge Brailsford
Judge rules there is cause to charge Brailsford
Posted at 3:26 PM, May 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 13:46:28-04

A Maricopa County judge has ruled there's probable cause to move forward with a murder case against former Mesa police officer Philip Brailsford, but he was also willing to hear a key defense witness.  

Brailsford is accused of shooting an unarmed man, Daniel Shaver, at a Mesa hotel. He has pleaded not guilty in the second-degree murder case, and Mesa has fired him from the force.  

The Jan. 18 shooting occurred as officers faced a high-risk situation when guests reported a man pointing a rifle out of the window of a Mesa hotel.

At Monday's hearing, a murder investigator said the victim wasn't yelling or voicing threats as he was being detained by officers.

Detective Paul Sipe said Shaver generally obeyed officers' orders, but Shaver did seem somewhat confused. Sipe said Shaver cried as he pleaded with them not to kill him.

After watching Brailsford's police body camera video, Judge Sam Myers ruled there was probable cause for the murder charge, but he also allowed the defense to call a witness to challenge that ruling. 

"There is no dispute he [Brailsford] caused the death of the victim," Judge Myers said. "The question is really his state of mind and whether or not there is any legal justification to his actions."

Brailsford maintains he opened fire out of fear that Shaver was reaching for a gun as Shaver was laying on the ground.

"I just thought gun," said Sgt. Charles Langley who was standing behind Brailsford in the motel hallway. "I remember at that point, I thought we were going to get shot."

Brailsford's attorney underscored that the victim had lied to police about being intoxicated.

Judge Myers will continue hearing testimony Tuesday morning, before making a final decision on whether to send the case to trial or dismiss the charges.