Police agencies are blamed in Gilbert man’s fatal shooting SanTan Sun News

Police agencies are blamed in Gilbert man’s fatal shooting

June 6th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Police agencies are blamed in Gilbert man’s fatal shooting
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By Cecilia Chan
Managing Editor

Jeffrey Shaw was an Eagle Scout with a competitive streak who as a child partook in occasional hijinks that involved water balloons and toilet paper.

He met his wife, Lauren, when they were both 14 and the two wrote love letters to each other, which continued during their 18-year marriage.

By all accounts, the Gilbert man also was a devoted dad to a son and three daughters – it was not unusual to see his toenails painted.

Last June 6, Shaw was shot multiple times by Arizona state troopers and died three weeks later, leaving his loved ones in shock.

“I don’t believe anyone has ever loved their brother as much as I loved Jeff,” said Tim Shaw at his younger brother’s funeral in July. “I feel that Jeff was part of my soul and his death has caused a large part of my soul to die.”

The family has filed two claims in connection with the shooting against Gilbert totaling $65 million. Representing Shaw’s wife, Attorney Patrick McGroder also filed notices of claim for $60 million each against Mesa and Chandler. Representing Shaw’s mother, attorney Timothy Casey filed a $5 million claim. The Department of Public Safety did not respond to questions from the Gilbert Sun News about claims against it.

McGroder said the estate has up to a year after the date of death to file a lawsuit and is waiting for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to render an opinion on the legality of the shooting.

A spokeswoman for the County Attorney said an investigation of the shooting was conducted by Mesa Police “and submitted it to our office on Aug. 25, 2020. It is in the queue to be reviewed.”

The events leading to the death of Shaw – an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the owner of two local Bahama Bucks franchises – began on a Saturday night.

At 8:30 p.m. June 6, Karen Shaw reached out to Gilbert Police for help in locating her 40-year-old son.

She explained that Jeffrey had not slept for days and had just been released from St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center, where he was being treated for depression and anxiety over his recent separation from his wife, according to a $5-million claim filed against the town on her behalf. Karen Shaw did not respond to a request for an interview.

A second claim against the town has been filed on behalf of Jeffrey Shaw’s wife and four children asking for $60 million.

The claims were deemed denied because Gilbert took no action within 60 days after the filings, Town Attorney Chris Payne said.

He added that the town’s outside counsel was investigating both claims, which blame Gilbert Police for “negligence and gross negligence” in the events that ultimately led to Shaw’s death.

The claims allege the town failed to adequately hire, fire, train and supervise its police employees and failed to train, supervise and implement policies or enforce appropriate policies and procedures to protect Shaw’s rights from excessive and unreasonable use of force.

According to the claims, Gilbert officers were dispatched to meet with Karen Shaw, one of Jeffrey’s brothers, Lauren and the four children – Sydney, Jordyn, Levi and Macie.

Based on the meeting, the officers “knew that Jeffrey had never been arrested, was non-violent, did not own a gun, and had no weapons in his truck,” the claims add.

Gilbert Police tracked Shaw on his cell phone but when officers arrived on the scene, he was no longer there.

They then issued an attempt-to-locate notification to other law-enforcement agencies. But in doing so, Gilbert failed “to accurately or fulsomely communicate the information it obtained about Jeffrey” to other police agencies, the claims state.

Chandler Police spotted Jeffrey Shaw’s silver Ford F-150 and gave chase but were unsuccessful in stopping the vehicle. According to a city spokesman, Chandler Police stopped its pursuit after the state Department of Public Safety got involved.

At the intersection of Pecos and Ellsworth roads in Mesa, Shaw lost control of his truck at the intersection and crashed, the claims say.

“As a result of the crash, Jeffrey was hanging outside of the truck’s driver’s side window” and two DPS troopers “fired multiple rounds at Mr. Shaw, striking him,” according to the claims.

“The shooting was unjustified, excessive and objectively unreasonable, particularly because at the time of the shooting,” the claims continue. “Jeffrey was unarmed, had just crashed his truck, and was hanging out of the driver’s side window. He posed no immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury.”

Shortly after the shooting, a Mesa K-9 officer deployed his police dog “to attack and apparently apprehend Jeffrey,” the claims add. “The police dog violently bit Jeffrey on the arm, ripping and chewing through Jeffrey’s bicep tendon.

“The police dog then also bit into Jeffrey’s stomach before attempting to drag Jeffrey away from the truck.”

The claims also alleged DPS “failed to timely call for medical care for Jeffrey, thereby contributing to his injuries.”

Shaw died on June 30, three days after his 41st birthday from complications of gunshot wounds, according to a Maricopa County Medical Examiner report. Shaw also was found to have pneumonia related to COVID-19.

The over 200-pages of documents released by Mesa Police to the Gilbert Sun News through a public records request paint a different picture of what occurred that night, although investigators’ interviews with the two DPS troopers involved in the shooting were not included.

According to police reports, Karen Shaw called Gilbert Police to report her son “was suicidal” and Chris, one of Jeffrey Shaw’s brothers, “indicated Jeffrey was about to do something ‘drastic.’”

After Chandler Police failed to stop Shaw, who ran red lights and failed to yield, DPS attempted to stop him at the 202 Freeway, including using a spike strip. A Mesa air unit also participated in the pursuit.

DPS continued the pursuit in unmarked vehicles as Shaw transitioned from the 202 to State Route 24, traveling at 100 mph.

Several witnesses confirmed that Shaw’s truck was traveling at a high rate of speed in a southbound lane on Ellsworth Road. The vehicle was cutting in and out of traffic before crashing at about 8:51 p.m. on the southwest corner of Pecos and Ellsworth roads, surrounded by farmland.

According to police investigators, Shaw was driving 88.9 mph at impact and intentionally went off the road, striking a traffic signal pole while at or near full throttle. There were no DPS vehicles seen behind the truck when it crashed, according to traffic safety cameras.

The truck rolled over going through several trees and came to a rest on its wheels, incurring significant damage.

According to DPS troopers at the crash scene, Shaw was exiting the driver’s side window and they yelled for him to show them his hands.

The shooting was not captured on camera.

“The driver yelled back, ‘I’m going to kill you,’” several times, the reports said.

“At this time, the driver’s left hand was visible, but his right hand was holding something under his shirt” and “despite repeated commands the driver would not show his right hand and repeatedly yelled he was going to kill them.”

A DPS trooper attempted to de-escalate the situation by saying, “we are here for you, “what can we do to help you,” “work with us,” and “how can we help you,” according to the reports.

The same trooper, who was about 30 feet from the driver, told investigators that Shaw’s “right hand came out from under his shirt, he was holding a long, black object about 6 to 8 inches long, he was holding the object at the base like someone holds a firearm.”   

The trooper then said he heard two other troopers fire their weapons at Shaw. He later told Mesa investigators he believed Shaw had a gun under his shirt.

Another trooper on the scene gave a similar account stating Shaw refused to show his right hand and that “the driver’s actions were making him nervous and he feared the driver was going to start shooting at them.”

Once shot, Shaw fell out of the driver’s side window and onto the ground, landing on his back. He ended up partially in a nearby ravine, his body positioned so officers couldn’t see his hands.

Investigators found a total of 15 fired cartridge cases at the scene. Shaw’s gunshot injuries included a wound to the right upper back, the left bicep and the right upper leg.

Shaw was given multiple commands that he didn’t respond to, prompting an arriving Mesa K-9 officer to use his police dog “Ringo” to effect an arrest.

A trooper tended to Shaw’s wounds until a fire crew arrived, which then transported Shaw to Chandler Regional Medical Center.

Two Mesa police officers arrived at the hospital with a search warrant for a blood draw from Shaw for a DUI investigation.

But because Shaw was in surgery and was given over 38 pints of blood, there was no blood valid for testing, according to the officers.

The object Shaw was seen holding when shot was the handle of a fishing rod with an attached reel.

A search warrant of the F-150 found a knife with a red substance on the blade located in the front passenger’s side door storage compartment and a kitchen knife with a red substance on it located on the driver’s side floorboard.

Eight days after Shaw died, his funeral service was held at the Greenfield Stake on Lindsay Road, where family members, including his two oldest daughters, shared their memories.

Tim Shaw said his brother’s entrepreneurial drive began early in junior high school where he persuaded their mother to buy candy in bulk, which Jeffrey than separated into bags and sold to other students from his school locker.

After college, Jeffrey was hired by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and later when he found he had more time on his hands he took on Bahama Buck’s, which specializes in shaved ice and other frozen non-alcoholic beverages.

“Jeff was a people person and if you were to ask him what he loved most about Bahama Buck’s it was the relationships he saw employees have together –  employees becoming best friends (and) our relationships with the employees,” said Lauren Shaw at the funeral.

She also praised him as a “great father.”

“Any spare moment was with the kids even when I knew he was exhausted from a long day,” Lauren Shaw said. “It was let’s play a game, let’s go swimming, let’s do this and anything was with the kids.”

A college fund for the four children has been set up on GoFundMe with a goal of raising $50,000. To donate, go to  gofundme.com and search “jeff shaw family.”

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