By: Wayne D. Ayers II 

The Maricopa County jury on Thursday found Mesa police Officer Philip Brailsford not guilty of second-degree murder charges in the 2016 shooting of an unarmed Texas man who was on his knees begging for his life.

Jurors deliberated for less than six hours over two days, finishing Thursday afternoon. The eight-member jury also found Brailsford not guilty of the lesser charge of reckless manslaughter.

The courtroom in Maricopa County Superior Court was stunned after one of Judge George Foster’s clerks read the verdict.

Brailsford was one of two officers in Arizona since 2005 who had been charged with murder in connection with an on-duty shooting

The case ends during a time when on-duty police shootings have received heightened scrutiny. Some shootings, particularly those recorded on video, have prompted protests throughout the U.S.

Brailsford’s acquittal came after impassioned closing arguments that offered contrasting narratives of why Brailsford shot and killed 26-year-old Daniel Shaver in a hotel hallway two years ago.

Shaver was kneeling, crying and begging not to be shot after he was confronted by six Mesa police officers in a La Quinta Inn & Suites hallway Jan. 18, 2016. Brailsford, who was fired two months after the shooting, testified that he fired his AR-15 rifle five times because it appeared Shaver was reaching for a gun.

“If this situation happened exactly as it did that time, I would have done the same thing,” Brailsford said in his testimony.

Laney Sweet, Shaver’s widow, said she had no comment to make about the verdict as, crying, she exited an elevator with family.

Mark Geragos, Sweet’s lawyer, called the shooting an “execution.”

“The justice system miserably failed Daniel (Shaver) and his family,” Geragos said.

Brailsford’s lawyer, Michael Piccarreta, said he had expected  the jury would come back with a positive outcome for his client. 

“We had confidence that the jury would recognize this as a tragedy, not a murder, and that Phillip Brailsford acted in a split-second as he was trained,” he said.

After the verdict, Brailsford and his family were escorted by a Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy out of the courtroom through a back door.

The footage of the shooting is down below.

Do y’all believe Brailsford should be guilty of second degree murder?