An Arizona police officer charged with the murder of an unarmed man was acquitted on Thursday.
Former Mesa Police Officer Philip Brailsford shot and killed 26-year-old Daniel Shaver in the hallway of a hotel in January 2016.
Bodycam footage of the incident, released after the the jury found Brailsford not guilty, showed Shaver on his knees asking officers not to shoot him just before he was killed.
Brailsford, who was fired from the Mesa police department two months after the shooting for violating police department policy, shot Shaver five times with a semi-automatic rifle as Shaver crawled towards the officers, sobbing.
In the video, Shaver can be seen exiting his room in front of armed officers, and immediately lies down on the ground.
this is the man..Daniel Shaver pic.twitter.com/rFOulyKl6C— Honor8 (@Mindt88) December 8, 2017
"Listen to my instructions and do not make a mistake," police tell him as he seems unable to follow a series of instructions on how to move his arms and legs. Police then tell Shaver to push himself into a kneeling position, and while doing so, he puts his hands behind his back, resulting in shouts from police to put his hands in the air.
"You do that again, and we're shooting you," officers say.
Shaver responds, "Please don't shoot me... I'm trying to do what you tell me."
A sobbing Shaver is then told to crawl toward the police, and while doing so, moves his hand towards his waist, whereupon Brailsford shoots Shaver five times with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
No weapon was found on the body, but Bailsford said he believed Shaver was reaching for a weapon in his waistband. Brailsford's attorneys argued that the officer had responded appropriately, according to his training.
"I believed 100 percent that he was reaching for a gun," Brailsford told the court on Thursday, Arizona Central reports.
Police were at the hotel in response to a report of a man pointing a gun out a hotel window. The police report said he showed guests in his hotel room a rifle he used for work, killing birds. It later emerged that the rifle was an airsoft or pellet gun.
"If this situation happened exactly as it did that time, I would have done the same thing," Brailsford said.
Social media users shared their anger over the verdict and the "disturbing" video showing the death of Shaver on Friday morning. Activist Shaun King said the video of Shaver's death was one of the "worst" he had ever witnessed.
"Sadly I've studied 100s of videos of American police executing non-violent, unarmed people. This is one of the worst I've ever witnessed," King wrote.0comments
Attorneys in the case argued that Brailsford was a killer who murdered Shaver "execution" style.
Experts say it is very rare for a cop to be convicted. Only 30 officers since 2005 have received convictions for on-duty shootings, according to Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Ohio's Bowling Green State University.