Widow of Man Killed by Cops Is Using TikTok for Reform, and Folks Are Listening

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Apr. 23 2021, Updated 11:50 a.m. ET

Daniel Shaver's Widow Is Using TikTok to Fight For Police Reform
Source: TikTok

It's easy to write off social media platforms, especially newer ones, after seeing some of the content that trends on there. For every well thought out, funny video, there's a ton of lazy, pointless, ill-conceived, fundamentally unfunny "skits" or clips that somehow went viral due to happenstance, or a fleeting moment of popularity.

But there are some genuinely awesome people creating great stuff on platforms like TikTok, and others who are using this same short-form video sharing service with lofty ambitions in mind, like the widow of Daniel Shaver.

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Daniel Shaver's widow has a TikTok account dedicated to police reform.

In January 2016, Mesa, Ariz. police officer Philip Brailsford responded to a call from a concerned individual saying that there was a man pointing a rifle out of a hotel window.

Perhaps the cop was thinking that someone was planning a repeat occurrence of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

daniel shaver widow tiktok
Source: TikTok
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This may have been the reason that the officer shot an unarmed Daniel Shaver in the hallway of the La Quinta Inn & Suites. Shaver did in fact have a gun with him at the hotel. It was a pellet gun that he used for his work in pest control. He even showed the air rifle to two other guests he had interacted with at the La Quinta earlier that evening.

Officer Brailsford was subsequently fired from the Mesa Police Department after Shaver's death. The reason: violating departmental policy. He was hit with a charge for second-degree murder but was later acquitted towards the end of 2017.

However, new developments in the case only emerged after the trial, which included a key piece of evidence: body camera footage that depicted a teary-eyed and pleading Shaver begging officers not to shoot him.

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The officers in the video are heard repeatedly yelling at Shaver to comply, and the footage was so heartrending that the man's widow, Laney Sweet, filed a civil suit against the police officers who took the call, along with the larger company that owns the chain of hotel's that Shaver was killed in. Her $75 million dollar lawsuit also named the city of Mesa as at fault for the nature of Daniel's death.

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Laney Sweet talks at length about the events leading up to Daniel's death, along with the lawsuit.

She has only been on TikTok for a relatively short amount of time, but Laney has already managed to amass more than 17,000 followers. In many of her TikTok videos, she brings awareness to Daniel's murder and the way the justice system and the police officers involved handled his killing.

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"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 says in one of the videos.

In another, she delineates how Daniel begged for his life as he stood in the hallway, unarmed, before he was gunned down.

"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? 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," she says.

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Laney went on to mention that even though Officer Brailsford was fired, he will receive a pension for the rest of his life, while she and her children are having a hard time making ends meet.

"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 explained.

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"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."

She put a link to a GoFundMe account in her TikTok profile to raise money to secure housing before the end of May.

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Although Laney has stated that the city of Mesa is interested in making a settlement for the issue to essentially "go away," she's explained that she doesn't feel comfortable agreeing to that. "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 said.

Many of her videos also detail some of the harrowing effects Daniel's death has had on her and her family: her young daughter attempted suicide when she was in school so she could have a chance to be with her father again.

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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