Cop Claims His Shooting Of An Unarmed Man Gave Him PTSD, Walks Off With A Medical Pension

from the things-are-tough-for-murderous-cops dept

Very few law enforcement agencies take accountability seriously. Even when officers are held responsible for wrongdoing, their employers find ways to soften the blow. Powerful police unions make the situation worse. The gap between officers and accountability hasn’t really shrunk, no matter how many recording devices we’ve attached to them or boards we’ve appointed to oversee them.

Nothing is going to improve if things like this keep happening. The backstory is this: Officer Philip Brailsford responded to call about a man in a hotel room with a gun. That man happened to be Daniel Shaver. Shaver killed pests so he owned pellet guns — one of which he had in the hotel room with him.

Within minutes of Officer Brailsford’s arrival, Daniel Shaver was dead — shot five times by Brailsford whose AR-15 was decorated with the phrase “You’re Fucked.”

Shaver was, indeed, fucked. He never had a chance to make it out of this confrontation alive. The video of his shooting shows Shaver never posed a threat. It shows Brailsford was the aggressor in this situation — laying down a steady stream of conflicting commands with the promise of death for any failure to comply.

This summary of Shaver’s last nightmarish minutes of life comes via the ACLU’s Jeffery Robinson:

On the video you can hear one of the officers screaming, “If you make a mistake, another mistake, there is a very severe possibility you’re both going to get shot … if you move, we are going to consider that a threat, and we are going to deal with it, and you may not survive it.”

[…]

Not only was the officer shouting in a very hostile voice, the orders were contradictory. “Do not put your hands down for any reason,” he tells Shaver. “Your hands go back in the small of your back or down, we are going to shoot you, do you understand me?” Shaver, who is now in tears, says, “Yes, sir.”

But immediately after, the commands change, “Crawl towards me,” and Mr. Shaver lowers his hands to the floor and begins moving toward the officers.

Within seconds of attempting to comply with the latest command, Brailsford decided Shaver was failing to comply and shot him five times, killing him.

Brailsford was charged with murder and manslaughter but a jury acquitted him of both charges. His employer fired him anyway, recognizing the threat Brailsford posed to citizens. All well and good, except it decided to make sure this firing caused the officer as little discomfort as possible. As Conor Friedersdorf reports for The Atlantic, it made a concession that will force taxpayers to fund the officer’s early retirement.

As for the cop who pulled the trigger, he was “temporarily rehired by the department so he could apply for a monthly pension,” The Arizona Republic reported this month. In 2018, he was reinstated for 42 days and applied for accidental disability. “An accidental disability is one that occurred while the employee was on the clock and permanently prevents the employee from doing his or her job,” the newspaper explained, adding that the pension in question “totals more than $30,000 annually.”

So, what disability did former Officer Brailsford claim? Pretty sure you can’t claim lack of good judgment and/or self-control as a disability, no matter how much these missing qualities have harmed your career. Nope, what Brailsford claimed was that he was the real victim in this shooting.

And the nature of the cop’s disability claim? According to an investigation by the local ABC affiliate, Brailsford said the incident in which he had shot Shaver had given him PTSD.

This is sickening. And it was enabled by his employer, which gave him the opportunity to make taxpayers pay for the mistakes he made as a cop. Being a bad cop pays just as well as being a good cop. And the agencies that could do something about police accountability simply won’t, which means we get whatever they give us, at our expense.

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Comments on “Cop Claims His Shooting Of An Unarmed Man Gave Him PTSD, Walks Off With A Medical Pension”

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40 Comments
Bruce C. says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

True. The appropriate response here seems to be to garnish the pension for damages paid to the victims family. But then we go down the "qualified immunity" rabbit hole. It might be worth pursuing that anyway. The fact that there was a criminal trial for murder means that there was a good amount of evidence for criminal misconduct.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

We really should be treating all of the murderers we have in prison for PTSD. In addition to the killings they committed, our criminal justice system followed up with forcing them to relive the experience and the trauma of ruining their lives.

Or, perhaps we could treat everyone that shoots an unarmed person as if they are simply dangerous criminals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

We really should be treating all of the murderers we have in prison for PTSD.

Some sort of psychological treatment is a good idea that might reduce recidivism. Locking a bunch of criminals together for a few decades and releasing them when their timers run out is not working.

Or, perhaps we could treat everyone that shoots an unarmed person as if they are simply dangerous criminals.

Well, they are. So why not both?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I believe what happens (and this is third hand information so no citations unfortunately) is that the juries are instructed to disregard everything except for a split second clip of the events and determine if they were justified. So for example if someone’s being held up by the police and their pants start sagging, and they reflexively reach for their band to pull them up and the cop shoots them. The greater context is thrown out and the jury is told to only make their determination on a clip of the guy thrusting his hands to his pants and decide from that if the cop was justified.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey Mason,

Your comment from an earlier post:

I… honestly don’t see any problem with that. Anyone who goes around murdering innocent people–especially young children!–absolutely is a subhuman savage who ought to be executed.

Are you going to call for this cop to be executed? What consequences did he face by making this mistake?

Anonymous Coward says:

Even if we pretend that this cop’s PTSD claim is valid—how is it not disability fraud to deliberately hire someone with a preexisting disability that renders them totally incapable of doing the job for which you hire them for the sole purpose of allowing that person to retire on disability at taxpayer expense?

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

The officer should not bear the full fault

While what was done is disgusting and despicable, I’m very concerned that the training our officers receive is more responsible for this reaction than the officer. If you teach nothing but fear and anger to someone about facing difficult situations you can’t be surprised when they don’t know how to react to someone that’s not acting the way you drilled into them to think everyone they face is going to react.
Yes as an individual we should expect officers to rise above this rhetoric nonsense of nothing but fear. We should not ignore the responsibility that that teaching rightfully bears on situations like this either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Military equipment leads to militant response

There are sooo many problems with this… but I’m not surprised that an officer armed with an AR-15 would end up using it.
It seems that whenever someone is equipped with military equipment, the response immediately becomes military no matter how civilian the situation actually is.

I’m guessing that the officer was worried that the suspect was in the midst of a tackle maneuver and thus felt he had to shoot the suspect before the gun was wrestled away and the suspect shot him… … "look out, he’s coming right for us"

Perhaps if we limited our officers to the tools that other civil servants are limited to (think more pen and clipboard, not gun and sword), then the response would be more civil and less militant.

Anonymous Coward says:

The cop did nothing wrong. He was doing exactly what his training instructed him to do. For dealing with armed terrorists, that is, as such training was originally crafted to deal with.

It’s amazing that the people and institutions that train cops to act precisely this way never suffer any consequences whenever someone gets killed "by mistake" when these highly dangerous tactics are deployed, as they routinely are, against ordinary people who are no threat to anyone whatsoever.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'They sneezed, open fire!'

When you really, really want to shoot someone and are willing to use any excuse to do so.

… oh, you meant valid reason? Beyond ‘person currently pointing a gun at someone or holding a knife to someone’s body and told to drop it/remove and drop it’, basically never(and even in those two hypothetical it would be extremely chancy given shooting them could result in exactly the wrong muscle movement).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'They sneezed, open fire!'

So he was in fear of someone on his hands and knees crawling toward him? No way! Failing to follow an order is no justification for killing someone!! Where is it written that failing to perform an order = instant death penalty?? There is no way that POS officer was in fear! Our judicial system is so broken officers can create situations where they can execute people with impunity.

JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"He was doing exactly what his training instructed him to do."

His obviously terrible training should not be enough to overpower that part of most people’s psyche that stops them from wanting to kill people. That fact that he immediately walked wordlessly over the body and worried more about opening the door than the life he’d just taken shows that part was not present. He strikes me as a bit of a psychopath (the medical definition, not the pop culture one).

ECA (profile) says:

Who ever...

Trained this person..
Hired this person with OUT understanding his Mental problems..
Who ever gave him NO JAIL TIME..
Who ever freed this person from PAYING back the family, parents, kids, wife, everyone..
Should also go to jail…

A person in Shorts? being shot because he THOUGHT he had a gun??
He has a 2nd person with the Officer..
He had to much control and Could not control it…He put himself on an EDGE.. that WAS NOT THERE..
He Pushed himself To hard to save his OWN life without Acknowledging, Anything that was happening. He STUCK it into his head what he HAD to do, if the situation was WHAT HE THOUGHT…. and couldnt see anything else.

This is as bad as a cop shooting a kid thats carrying around a Play gun.. The End of the gun may have an orange Ring, the barrel not big enough to shoot much of anything, it Fits into the kids hands…. but the kid gets shot..

He lost control of himself. isnt that WHY they are supposed to be Training all the time, to SHOW HOW to not pressure themselves?? Just Stupid.

ECA (profile) says:

Its all in training. and Psych EVAL

There are Good cops, and there is GREAT training…
But you cant teach a paranoid person what to do..

And I would love to see how this person was trained, and Shown HOW to protect himself..
And how to Disarm a situation..

This person REALLY seemed not to understand PEOPLE, or the situation at hand. This was a Military or MOVIE style shake down, that he saw SOME PLACE.

He had a 2nd officer there,and he could HOLD the people under arms…while the officer Cuffed and searched EACH…for any type of weapon or drug..
He didnt have the training for this. he was so Hyped up that you probably couldnt knock him out with an elephant tranc.

iCleverUserName (profile) says:

Question

My question is going to seem like I am taking the cops side but I really am just wondering…..what exactly was the guy doing right before he was shot with his right hand? He did seem (and I could be wrong but I re-watched it a bunch of times) to suddenly throw his right arm back as if he was grabbing or doing something. Maybe I am wrong though…..I just was curious.

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