A memorial fund for the family of a 26-year-old man fatally shot by a Mesa police officer in 2016 has received renewed support after a YouTube personality directed his fans to the GoFundMe site during a video in which he satirizes the shooting.
YouTuber Ian Kung, who has more than 59,000 subscribers, produced and uploaded the video, which has been viewed more than 387,000 times since it was published Wednesday.
Police video of the fatal shooting of Daniel Shaver in a hotel hallway in January 2016 received international attention when it was released this month after a jury acquitted former officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, 27, of second-degree murder.
Laney Sweet, Shaver’s widow, lives in Granbury, Texas, and started the GoFundMe page two years ago to help with the costs of traveling to Phoenix for the court hearings and the trial. The fund is also meant to help with the costs of raising their two young daughters.
After the acquittal Dec. 7, the fund received a flood of donations, hitting the $50,000 mark, up from about $38,000 before the verdict. It now stands at $82,000, or about $18,000 from the goal.
A description beneath the video tells viewers how to donate to the Shaver family.
The shooting hasn’t prompted any public demonstrations in the Phoenix area, unlike other high-profile police shootings across the country.
But Kung’s video has continued to fuel criticism of the shooting on social media, where people have described Shaver’s shooting as an “execution.”
Reaction to Kung’s video has been mixed. Although it has 11,000 likes and has been praised for calling attention to police brutality, many commenters have said it is in poor taste or done “too soon.”
The 33-second YouTube video is shot from the perspective of a person holding an orange toy gun, which is trained on Kung as he steps into a hallway. The person holding the toy gun begins yelling out incoherent commands after Kung gets on his knees.
“Now you’re going to do everything I tell you, or you’re going to get shot,” the person holding the toy gun says.
He then throws Kung a Rubik’s Cube puzzle and tells him to solve it. Immediately after, he throws Kung a Bop It, a hula hoop and another toy, which Hung carries in his mouth. When Kung is confused by trying to simultaneously play with the toys, the person holding the toy gun fires.
“Why didn’t you follow my instructions?” the man yells out.
Some YouTube users commented that they were unaware of the real-life shooting and thanked Kung for highlighting the criminal case.
“People saying this is in bad taste, I couldn’t disagree more. Art done right can help expose problems within society, and in this case the best tool is satirical comedy,” a YouTube user named Longknife wrote. “Yes, it’s a tragedy and no one’s denying it was awful what happened, but this little snippet of satire perfectly encompasses WHY it was such a tragedy and WHY it was ridiculous.”
The actual police video shows an intoxicated and confused Shaver crawling toward officers in a hallway of the hotel. Former Sgt. Charles Langley, who retired and moved to the Philippines shortly after the shooting, is heard telling Shaver to get on his knees with his hands up in the air and crawl toward the officers.
Shaver puts his hands down to crawl toward the officers, but at one point raises his right arm. Brailsford fires at him.
Brailsford claimed it appeared that Shaver, who was staying at a La Quinta Inn & Suites on a work trip, was reaching toward his waist to possibly pull out a weapon. No weapon was found on Shaver, but police found in his hotel room a pellet gun he used for his pest-control job.