One thing that is for absolute certain is that Shaver's death was extremely sad and tragic and should never have happened. As far as was it justified, meaning not criminal? It isn't completely clear for me in some aspects. In hindsight, did Shaver need to be shot? Absolutely not. He was unarmed and was not a threat to anyone. To add to the tragedy, Shaver was intoxicated at the time of the shooting, and this likely contributed to Shaver's lack of coordination and his inability to be able to process commands and instructions from the police. It was truly heartbreaking to watch the video, as Shaver was terrified, begging the officers to not shoot him.
Here's where some problems arise: The officers had no way of knowing any of that information at the time when they responded. The officers were responding to a report that a man had a rifle. However, once the officers arrived and made contact with Shaver, it would be a bit far fetched for officers to assume that Shaver was armed with a rifle while he was on his knees right in front of their faces. But I suppose as far as the officers knew, if someone has one gun, it is possible they could have more. This was certainly the case in Las Vegas when Stephen Paddock committed mass murder. He had 24 firearms in his hotel, although Shaver was killed more than a year prior to the Las Vegas shooting, so it certainly cannot be argued that the officers feared they could have another hotel mass murderer on their hands. In Shavers case, it turns out, it was only a pellet rifle, but in all fairness, the officers had no way of knowing that beforehand.
As far as the video, it is difficult to see exactly what was going on in those split second moments just prior to the first shot being fired because of the limited point of view, but just prior to the shooting, it does seem to appear as if Shaver moved his hand toward his back. Of course, he was unarmed, but again, the officers did not know that at the time. I can see where it might be possible that Shaver's movements could have initially appeared that he was reaching for a weapon. Although reports later indicated that it also appeared as if Shaver was attempting to pull up his pants, which makes the situation even more confusing. If Shaver were trying to pull up his pants, that naturally indicate that his pants had been falling down at some point, correct? If his pants were falling down, and had there been a gun in the waist band, wouldn't one think the alleged gun would have fallen out, as it could have no longer been secured in the waste band? I suppose no one can know for certain. Sadly, a host of unfortunate events all culminated in that one moment and led to a heartbreaking tragedy. An innocent young man lost his life, and it shouldn't have happened. That much is for certain.
Just like many others, I am outraged and angered at many factors regarding law enforcement in this particular case. First and foremost, the officer who fired the fatal shots, Philip Brailsford, should have never been on the police force, period. He does not have the mindset or the mentality it takes to be a PEACE officer. It was later determined that Brailsford engraved the phrase "You're f*cked" into the very rifle that he used to kill Shaver. That is quite disturbing. Taking a human life is the last thing ANY police officer should ever want to do. Police officers should strive to preserve life and to save lives, not take them. Any person who would seem to get any kind of thrill at the thought or prospect of having to taking another life is not a stable person, in fact, it is completely insane, literally. This is the way psychopaths and sociopaths think. This should not be the mentality of our law enforcement officers. The last thing somebody with that mentality needs is a gun, badge, and authority. I'm actually surprised Brailsford was able to successfully pass a psych evaluation. It is beyond frightening to think that this was a public servant who swore to serve and protect. It is beyond outrageous to think that someone like this was entrusted with maintaining peace and keeping the public safe. Brailsford had also been previously investigated for slamming a teenager on the ground. In the video of the incident with the teenager, it is difficult to surmise what was going on, as the video began after the events occurred which led up to the police being there. However, I slowed the video down and watched carefully. The teenager did not appear to be resisting or combative in anyway. But again, in all fairness, we do not know what transpired prior to the beginning of the video. But from what could be seen, Brailsford seemed like he absolutely could not control himself, almost as if he were in a frenzy. He then began screaming profanities at what appeared to be a teenage girl who was standing nearby, who did not appear to be interfering with the officers in anyway. When one ponders the seemingly violent mindset of Brailsford along with an alleged history of excessive force, one cannot help but wonder if Brailsford was nothing more than a violent, trigger happy, sadistic thug. My personal opinion of Brailsford: He is a narcissistic sociopath who gets pleasure from being able to torment, dominate, frighten and control, zero remorse, manipulative, false sense of grandiosity, violent tendencies, and very little impulse control. I'm not a mental health expert, that's just my personal, possibly slightly skewed take on Brailsford.
My heart would have loved to have seen Brailsford convicted and rotting in prison for the rest of his life. Shaver was a completely innocent victim who did not deserve to die, and his family should not have had to bury their loved one and have to live with the horrific way in which they lost him for the rest of their lives. But my head still grapples with that one moment just prior to the shooting when Shaver may have appeared to have been reaching for something. But in the end: My head also tells me that police officers who are suppose to be trained in these kinds of situations, and are there in person with a much better vantage point than what we were afforded from the video should have surely been able to deduce that Shaver, with assault rifles zeroed in on him and after being threatened numerous times with being shot to death if he were to err in any way, and who was sobbing and begging for his life, was just very frightened, and that maybe his immense fear was interfering with his ability to remain calm and follow commands. Let alone the fact he was forced to crawl in one of the most contorted, awkward positions I have ever seen in my life, and one that I have never before seen police do. It would have been very difficult for most people in even the most relaxed, calm state to crawl on their knees with their ankles locked behind them, and arms up in the air, let alone when your entire body is trembling from fear and anxiety because of assault rifles pointed at you and constant threats of being gunned down. Adding to that dilemma, Shaver didn't even know why this was happening to him. He died not even knowing why he was forced to his knees and begging for his life, so no doubt along with the fear was a great deal of confusion.
Overall, I do not believe the shooting was justified. Can I understand certain aspects from the police officer's point of view? Sure, but certainly not enough that could justify shooting an unarmed innocent man five times with an AR-15. Even though Brailsford was acquitted on the state level, the Department of Justice has opened it's own investigation into the shooting, so perhaps in the future there will be more clarity, and more importantly, someone to answer for this absolutely unnecessary killing of an unarmed, innocent man. Incidents this tragic and insane cannot continue to happen with absolutely no one being held accountable.