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Testimony wraps up in murder trial of former Mesa police officer

Posted at 7:45 PM, Nov 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-30 21:45:20-05

A former Mesa police officer, on trial for murder, faced cross-examination Thursday.

Philip Mitchell Brailsford told the prosecutor about his mindset on the night in January 2016. He was one of several officers who responded to a call about a man pointing a rifle out a window at a La Quinta hotel.

"It was a very serious situation," Brailsford said. "It was potentially an active shooter."

The officers called a man, Daniel Shaver, out of room 502.  When Shaver disobeyed a police order and moved his hand toward his waistband, Brailsford opened fire.

In the courtroom, there were several testy exchanges between the prosecutor and defendant.

"Because of the totality of the circumstances, I had to presume that he was armed until we could prove otherwise," Brailsford said.

"You have no idea what presume actually means - the word," prosecutor Susie Charbel said.

In reality, Shaver was unarmed, drunk, crying and begging officers not to shoot. Officers later found two pellet guns in room 502.

 As frustrations rose, the judge cut off one line of questioning, and intervened once to a allow Brailsford to give a more complete answer.

Brailsford said he was in line with his training during the shooting, and if confronted with the same circumstances, he would make the same decision today.

"I absolutely, 100 percent believe he was reaching for a gun, I would not have fired at all if I thought otherwise," Brailsford said.

Also Thursday, two more juror were excused due to work schedule conflicts next week. That leaves six jurors and three alternates left.

Closing arguments are scheduled for next Tuesday.  If convicted of second-degree murder, Brailsford could be sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison.