On Saturday, the Mesa Police Department shared a post on Facebook encouraging people to apply to the Mesa Police Academy, but commenters aren’t ready to let the department forget what happened to Daniel Shaver, who was killed by a Mesa officer three years ago.
On the post calling for recruits, one person asked whether “making innocent civilians crawl down a hotel hallway” was something that was “taught at the academy?”
In January 2016, Mesa police Officer Philip Brailsford shot and killed the 26-year-old Shaver after barking conflicting commands at the terrified man in a hotel hallway for several minutes. Bodycam footage later released of the Texas visitor begging for his life before he was shot went viral.
But some thin-skinned officers are more than ready to forget what happened. After another Facebook commenter chimed in, a Mesa cop used her personal account to call commenters “idiots” on the department’s Facebook page.
Someone said the original commenter “seems to have a 100% problem with police” and that most cops aren’t bad. That’s when Karrie Flanigan, a 20-year veteran with the Mesa Police Department, published a comment saying that the second comment “just makes too much sense for some of these idiots that post and have nothing else to complain about.“
The Mesa Police Department itself briefly “liked” Flanigan’s comment calling people bringing up Shaver’s shooting “idiots,” but Flanigan’s comment has since been deleted. A Twitter account dedicated to calling out instances of alleged police misconduct, Mesa Police Accountability, took a screenshot of the post.
Asked why the Mesa Police Department liked the post, Detective Nik Rasheta, a department spokesperson, told Phoenix New Times it was an accident.
“Basically, our social media is kinda overviewed by a few different individuals, including PIOs [Public Information Officers] and backup PIOs,” Rasheta said. “All of us have a personal Facebook account linked so we can be an administrator” for the Mesa Police Department page. “We toggle back and forth between those. This particular PIO was scrolling through and liking things to make sure there was some interaction on the post. He saw Karrie’s name, recognized her, and inadvertently clicked “like” when he saw just the good part at the end of the post.” The PIO did later un-like the post, Rasheta said.
The shooting of Daniel Shaver brought national scrutiny to the Mesa Police Department: The Department of Justice is still investigating Shaver’s death, and Shaver’s family filed a $75 million lawsuit over Brailsford’s actions.
It appears Flanigan has since deleted her comment. Flanigan recently made headlines in a joint Arizona Republic and KJZZ investigation into misconduct by teachers and how they often escape culpability.
In 2014, a Red Mountain High School teacher struck up a relationship with a 15-year-old student. Other students found out about it, and when the rumor reached Flanigan, a school resource officer stationed at Red Mountain, Flanigan questioned the girl, who denied it. Flanigan asked the head of school athletics to question the accused teacher, who also denied it.
As KJZZ and the Republic reported, Flanigan didn’t write up a report on what she heard or the actions she took. The Mesa Police Department has since initiated an internal review into Flanigan’s handling of the case.
Months after Shaver’s killing, Brailsford was fired and charged with second-degree murder. But he ultimately was acquitted of the charges, and was even reinstated by the city of Mesa in August 2018 — only to be granted retirement on medical grounds because he claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from killing Shaver. The retirement allows Brailsford to collect a pension, which totals $30,000 annually.
(Correction: This article previously stated Brailsford was reinstated by Mesa police. The city reinstated him.)