Daniel Shaver Body-Cam Video and the Acquittal

Some of my old Fault Lines co-workers, including the Mean-a$$ editor, have been talking about the former Mesa, Arizona police officer who was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the officer-involved shooting of Daniel Shaver. I wrote about it on Fault Lines when if first occurred. Chris Seaton recently posted on it with a good timeline of events.

I normally agree with all of my colleagues from Fault Lines, but occasionally they make incorrect evaluations of a situation. Sometimes they are just flat-out wrong, like when Scott Greenfield discusses barbecue.∗ Here, Scott tweet a link to a Red State Patterico article that describes the “Law Enforcement Perspective,” as if there were only one possible LE view on the matter. I actually agree with most of his points, which were:

1) I believe this was an avoidable tragedy.
2) The police officer’s instructions were absurd and contradictory.
3) The video is infuriating because much of the time it’s impossible to guess what the cop actually wanted Shaver to do.
4) Shaver’s reaching for his waist was a fatal mistake.
5) The cop who shot Shaver was probably really scared.
6) Whether this shooting was criminal or justified is a decision for a jury that has all the evidence. You can’t make up your mind based on this single video. You need more facts.

Patterico’s not wrong, but Scott is wrong about one key issue. Scott keeps saying that Arizona is an open-carry state and that therefore the officers did not have reasonable suspicion to contact Shaver. That’s just incorrect.

To legitimately contact Shaver and detain him, all the officers had to have is “unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous…”† Here you have a call that someone is pointing a rifle out of a fifth story window. Any police officer would recognize this as reasonable suspicion that someone may be committing a crime. He could be a sniper, after all. And the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that reasonable suspicion “need not rule out the possibility of innocent conduct.”‡

The officers had plenty of reasonable suspicion, even in an open carry state.

But the best breakdown I’ve seen, is from a former South Carolina cop who goes by the YouTube handle of Donut Operator.

Cody does a brilliant job of breaking it down, and points out, like Patterico, the commands are contradictory and confusing. He also points out that having Shaver walk backwards towards the officers would have been better, you know, like a felony traffic stop.

Cody points out that the crawling was crap. I’ve never heard of any training where you have a suspect crawl towards you. You either walk them to you backwards, or you prone them out facing away from you and you go to them. That’s it. Those are the two options that I’m familiar with, and crawling isn’t one of them.

Another reason I like Cody is that his reaction to Brailsford’s dust-cover on his carbine.♠ His pro-tip was that if you want to put that crap on your weapon, you probably should not be going into law enforcement.

I am disappointed that there was not a conviction here, but I understand it. Brailsford is not the only one who screwed up, but the department won’t admit that, not as long as the lawsuit by Shaver’s widow is pending.

∗It’s found in Iowa? Really? And it’s pork?

†Terry v. State of Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 30 (1968).

‡Navarette v. California, 134 S. Ct. 1683, 1691 (2014).

♠Which read “You’re F**ked” when open.