Daniel Shaver's Widow Uses TikTok to Fight for Justice Over Police Shooting

The widow of Daniel Shaver, an unarmed man who was shot and killed by a police officer, is using TikTok to fight for justice.

Shaver, 26, was shot by former Mesa police officer Philip "Mitch" Brailsford five times in January 2016 after officers responded to a report of someone pointing a rifle out of hotel room window.

Shaver, a white man from Granbury, Texas, did have a pellet gun in his room, which he used for his work in pest control, but he was unarmed when he was shot dead in the hallway of the La Quinta Inn & Suites. Witnesses told police that Shaver had been showing off the pellet gun to two guests he had met earlier in the night.


When will DanielShaver’s story finally be heard? When will cops be held accountable? Why do they get lifetime pensions for killing citizens?

♬ original sound - Laney Sweet

Brailsford was fired from the Mesa Police Department for violating departmental policy. He was charged with second-degree murder, but acquitted after a trial in late 2017.

It was only after the acquittal that authorities released body camera footage of the shooting, showing Shaver tearfully pleading with officers not to shoot him as officers barked orders and berated him repeatedly.

In January that year, Shaver's widow Laney Sweet filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Mesa, the officers who responded to the call and the parent company of the hotel involved, alleging Shaver did nothing during the encounter that justified deadly force. She is seeking $75 million in damages, The Associated Press reported at the time.

That lawsuit remains underway, Sweet said in a video posted on her TikTok page. She's started using the popular video app to raise awareness about her late husband's shooting. Since joining the app a few days ago, Sweet has amassed almost 10,000 followers and more than 130,000 likes on her videos.

"For those of you fighting for police accountability and justice, research Daniel Shaver. Daniel was my husband. He was shot and killed five years ago," she said in one video.

In another clip, she detailed how Shaver had begged for his life before he was shot multiple times.

"Can someone please help explain to me how is it possible in the United States of America that these police officers keep getting away with murder?" Sweet said. "My husband Daniel Shaver was shot and killed five years ago while crying on the ground pleading for his life saying, 'Please don't shoot me.' He was compliant. He was unarmed. He didn't even have shoes on."

In another video, Sweet referred to the spate of police killings in the U.S., such as the death of George Floyd.

"People, it's time to wake up," she said. "Even when you comply and you try and you beg for your life and you say 'please don't shoot me' and you tell them that you can't breathe and you cry and you plead and you beg... they don't care.

"Because some cops are just out looking to kill people and they get away with it. And it keeps happening. And it's going to keep happening until people wake up and demand change."


What questions do you have about Daniel Shaver?

♬ original sound - Laney Sweet

In her videos, Sweet also spoke about how Brailsford, the officer who fatally shot Shaver, would get a pension for the rest of his life, while she and her children are struggling financially.

According to reports, Brailsford signed an agreement in 2018 to be rehired by the Mesa Police Department temporarily so he could apply for accidental disability pension and medical retirement due to a PTSD diagnosis. The PTSD stemmed from the shooting of Shaver and the resulting prosecution, an attorney for the officer told ABC15 in 2018.

"He was charged with second-degree murder, acquitted and then reinstated so he could get PTSD benefits for claiming disability for murdering my husband," she said in one video. "He's collecting a pension for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, my daughters and I are losing our housing and don't know where we're going to move next month and we don't have a working vehicle. Tell me how this is justice."

Sweet, who lives in Durango, Colorado, explained on a GoFundMe page to raise funds to support her family that she and her children will have nowhere to live from the end of May. That page has so far collected more than $75,000 in donations.

In a post on the page earlier this month, she said the city of Mesa is "interested" in settling the lawsuit and a mediation has been ordered.

"Agreeing to a settlement would mean that tase officers never have to take the stand... I'd much rather take them to trial, despite how uncomfortable that will be for me," she wrote.

She added that Brailsford and Charles Langley, the former officer who shouted orders at Shaver prior to the shooting, have "secured pensions for the rest of their lives, while we still cry for justice over five years later."

A spokesperson for the Mesa Police Department declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit.

Sweet and the city of Mesa have been contacted for additional comment.

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People gather for a demonstration in the intersection of 38th Street & Chicago Avenue on April 18, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Brandon Bell/Getty Images