According to a police report, Daniel Leetin Shaver (December 29, 1989 – January 18, 2016), a pest-control worker and resident of Granbury, Texas, had been staying at a Mesa La Quinta Inn & Suites on business. He invited two acquaintances to his room for drinks. There he showed them a scoped air rifle he was using to exterminate birds inside grocery stores. At one point the gun was pointed outside his hotel window, prompting a witness to notify the front desk; the police were immediately called. Upon arrival, police gave Shaver and his acquaintances detailed orders for several minutes, with frequent admonitions that failing to comply with them would get them shot. Eventually, Shaver was ordered to crawl on the floor towards them. While complying with their request, Shaver, who was intoxicated and could be heard sobbing, begging officers, "Please don't shoot," brought his hands toward his waist. Brailsford yelled at Shaver that if Shaver did anything whatsoever that deviated from his instructions he would shoot him and he probably wouldn't survive. The officer told Shaver to put his hands up in the air and not to bring them down for any reason. A few seconds later, the officer ordered Shaver to crawl towards him, to which Shaver complied. Shaver then reached his right hand back towards his waistband, at which point Brailsford can be heard yelling "Don't!" while simultaneously opening fire with his AR-15 rifle, striking Shaver five times and killing him almost instantly. Shaver was unarmed.The body camera footage is disturbing. Watch it if you must but be forewarned. It's graphic and a main dies. At trail, Officer Brailsford was acquitted of all charges, but has to live with the fact that the took a man's life.
I've been a police officer for over 35 years, and it has long been my practice to refrain from second-guessing other police officers. If you weren't there, you don't understand the dynamic of what might happen at any given time. Lots of people are second-guessing the scenario and that is dangerous. But, we can learn from other people's misfortune, and while Shaver's death is regrettable, it may in the end, save lives. You can bet that police academies all over the country are watching the video, trying to learn lessons that can be applied.
I often tell people that my main job is to be the adult in the room. When folks call the police, they're either scared, or hurt, or in some sort of emotional distress. It's our job to provide a calming influence, to defuse a crisis, to take control of the situation. Our job is sometimes dangerous, but we have to be in control of ourselves before we can hope to control anyone else, much less to control what might be a lethal encounter.
As I watched the video, it seemed to me that everyone was scared. And, it's okay to be scared in a lethal force encounter. But, we have to overcome the fear, take a breath and become heroic, which is simply doing your job when you are scared spitless. In my career, I've been involved in two lethal force encounters. Luckily, my partner and I had each other's backs and we got through it with no one being harmed. And, in my career, I've buried two good friends and a small number of acquaintances who did not survive lethal force encounters. I know how quickly these things can go wrong, horribly, irretrievably wrong. Yet, we studied these encounters and learned from them. In the end, they saved lives.
So, in the end, the death of Daniel Shaver, as regrettable as it is, will save lives. This may be small comfort, but it is the best we can do.