By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A suburban Phoenix police officer was charged with second-degree murder on Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of an unarmed Texas man at a hotel, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Philip Mitchell Brailsford, of the Mesa Police Department, should not have used deadly force in the Jan. 18 incident involving Daniel Shaver, 26, outside his hotel room.
Shaver was shot five times after police responded to a report of a man pointing a rifle out a window at a La Quinta Inn. Shaver was pronounced dead at the scene.
“After carefully reviewing the relevant facts and circumstances, we have determined that the use of deadly physical force was not justified in this instance,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement.
Brailsford could not be immediately reached for comment.
The incident is another in a series of shootings by police of unarmed people nationwide, sparking concern about the use of deadly force by law enforcement.
Marc Victor, an attorney for Shaver’s widow, Laney Sweet, called the charges a “good first step” to ensuring that justice was served for the victim, his wife and two young daughters.
“We expect that there will be a fair trial and we expect a just result,” he said.
Sweet has filed a $35 million wrongful death claim against Mesa over the incident. A claim is required before a lawsuit can be filed.
Police were called to the hotel southeast of Phoenix following reports of someone sticking a gun out a fifth-floor window.
Officers set up outside Shaver's room and ordered him and a woman to leave, get on the hallway floor and crawl toward police, prosecutors said. The woman complied and was taken into custody.
Shaver was fatally shot when he made a motion with his right hand toward his waistline as he crawled toward officers, prosecutors said in a statement.
Police said investigators later found two pellet rifles in the hotel room.
Brailsford had been with the police department for more than two years. He was placed on administrative leave following the shooting.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Leslie Adler)