The liability freaks online are already giving birth to multiple calves about this. So here is my educated and experienced perspective on the case.
Synopsis: Couple of drunks point a BB gun out a hotel window. Someone sees it and calls the police. Police get a man with a rifle call and respond. Drunks don't cooperate and one of them gets shot. That is it in a nutshell. Now to the fine points.
1). About 9 p.m., Shaver, the 26-year-old suspect, took the rifle out and adjusted its scope like a “Pictionary toy from the ’80s” with Nunez. The men were standing at the window, facing south, and began pointing the rifle out of the window, Portillo told police.
2). Outside, in the ground-floor pool area, a husband and wife in the hot tub noticed someone holding a gun from a fifth-floor window, the records said. Startled, they rushed into the lobby to tell a clerk about what they’d seen.
3). "We've got some scared people," he said. "A couple of the guests – I’m an employee – they’ve come to me and they’ve told me that somebody is pointing a rifle outside of one of the windows in our building."
Six Mesa police officers arrived within seven minutes, responding to the "subject with a gun" call. Among them was Brailsford, 25, who had been a Mesa police officer for more than two years.
4). They reported hearing a man and a woman’s voice inside Room 502, and a sergeant issued verbal commands to exit the room. No one responded. Two officers went back to the lobby, where they retrieved a key card and called the occupants.
No one answered the first call, but Shaver picked up the second. An officer commanded Shaver and Portillo to exit the room, with the woman leaving first. Moments later, according to the reports, Brailsford and other officers heard the receiver slam and Brailsford quickly brought his rifle to his shoulder and aimed it down the hallway “as if anticipating encountering someone exiting from the room.”
5). The sergeant warned Shaver that if he mistook the commands, “there is a very severe possibility you are both going to get shot. Do you understand?” Both Shaver and Portillo were commanded to get on the ground with their hands in the air. Both Shaver and the woman were compliant, though it was not clear whether the man had a gun, the transcript reads.
6). Both complied, but Shaver then moved out of the position, and Brailsford and a fellow officer pointed their guns at him.
“The male was instructed to crawl towards us with his hands in the air,” that fellow officer said in a supplemental report. “As the male came close to us, I saw him abruptly drop his right hand from above his head and reach back to the small of his back. I immediately perceived this as a threat and a movement to reach a handgun.”
7). Shaver, who was on his hands and knees, was warned again and told by the sergeant, “If you do that again, we are shooting you.”
Panicked, Shaver replied, “No, please don’t shoot me,” and within seconds moved his hand toward the front of his body toward his waistline, possibly to pull up his shorts.
The report said the movement looked like a motion similar to someone drawing a pistol from a waistband. Or, the report said, he could have been trying to pull up his sagging shorts. An officer was heard telling Shaver, "Don't."
Brailsford told investigators he could not see Shaver's right hand and perceived a threat. He rapidly fired at Shaver five times with his AR-15 rifle. Shaver slumped in the fetal position on the floor.
I know some might disagree, but IMEEANSHO (In my educated, experienced, and not so humble opinion) Brailsford was quite justified and I will tell you why. I will also speculate why the reaction has been the way it has been with the officer.
To paraphrase the event with greater clarity.
1). Two drunks point a rifle out the window. It is seen by a couple outside and rightly so they get scared. I mean...this IS 2016-2017 and the reality of jihad and crazy people violence is very real. The employees are told and call the police.
2). The police do not have the entire backstory do they? They get a man with a gun call, something Mesa PD takes very seriously. I trained with some of the Mesa PD SWAT guys and they are probably some of the sharpest in Maricopa. Very serious people.
3). When they make contact, they get belligerence. So the suspect's response coupled with the initial information creates a state of mind for the responding officers. You can tell the state of mind of the group by the orders issued by the Sgt. "If you do not comply you will be shot". I have stood where the Sgt. was standing and the statement is both an order to the suspects as well as a directive to the team.
4). It is clear the suspects understood not only the commands but the seriousness of the events as evidenced by their initial compliance. And when the main suspect reached for his waistband the first time, and was warned again, and initially complied, it shows an understanding by him of the seriousness of the event. So at what point are you serious and at what point are you kidding about your commands?
In conclusion - The event was unfortunate but justified.
Would I have done it this way? No, but in my day we had options not available to the modern police officer. We tended to get very physical with non-compliant suspects.
The six officers would have been detailed this way:
Two cover and perhaps clear the room.
One stays weapon trained on the girl.
One stays pointed in on Shaver while the other two physically restrain and handcuff him (read that with great physical violence involving boots and fists). Girl is handcuffed, room is cleared...everyone goes to jail...bruised but alive. But that was a vastly different time and I think the following exacerbated the situation:
a). The fear of making a mistake on video. The police admin, and many line officers laud the advantages of video, but it is a two edged sword...and perhaps a reality of modern life. But I know that its presence creates an environment of fear in the officers. They are authorized to use certain tools but not others and after the first few internal affairs beefs, you either quit or fall into line. Rifles are authorized...boot stomps are not.
b). The disinclination of many officers to improvise and go hands on. If you tell your background investigator that you used to fight full contact karate and that you actually like to hit people with your fists, you will likely not be hired.
c). The limited options they are given by policy. Moreover, I suspect that the limits on the force options are hammered home in the Academy. These officers did what they were trained to do, but as we know...the gaps are where problems come up. This leads to events like this where you have a situation that is justified for shooting, but if the above situations did not exist, probably would not have resulted in a shooting. That the suspects were drunk is irrelevant once the presence of a firearm is extant. And that very fact and possibility justifies a greater increase in the officer's reactions.
Where I this man's lawyer I would bring all of these up and my star witnesses would be the Sergeant on scene, the Agency's training staff, all the witnesses at the hotel, and the video in question.
Why was the officer treated in this way?
Not knowing the internal workings of that particular agency and his specific history with them I can only speculate generally based on what I have personally seen in the police world. Officers are either popular with the agency administration or they are not. If they are not, and I suspect this is the case here, they will never take his side or risk anything for them. Specially if the event in question is not a perfect or a clean one.
I think on scene, everyone thought they did a great job, and it was a justified event. As I said, the lack of a weapon does not mitigate the officers' reasonable belief that the suspect had one in his possession. The event, the state of mind, and the resisting suspects made the presence of a firearm in reality irrelevant. That the officers were told there was a firearm involved was sufficient.
I suspect as soon as this shit sandwich was run up the flagpole, the administration decided to wash its hands and blame it on the disappointing hire they wished to never have hired in the first place...and wait...what is in this dust cover on his rifle?
While we are on the "You're Fucked" dust cover, I will say that is a stupid thing to add to a rifle that will very likely be used to kill a suspect. Even back in my prehistoric police career we would not have added that to a weapon. But I will ask...what was going on with the Sergeant who tacitly approved such a decoration? And if he was not aware of it, why not? The officer's rifle must be approved by the agency, and due diligence in such approval must require qualification and inspection, for safety if nothing else. Did nobody consider this might be an issue in just such an event?
Its not about the dust cover...that is but the cherry on top the fecal banana split. Had Shaver been a Mateen or a Farooq, fresh from a Jihad party massacre, I doubt we would even be hearing at all about this.