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Video: Phoenix officer shoots, kills Ahwatukee man Ryan Whitaker

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 10:57:55-04

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department has released video of the May police shooting that resulted in the death of Ryan Whitaker.

On Wednesday, officials released 911 calls and video from body-worn cameras from the two officers present during the shooting in Ahwatukee on May 21.

Also, in an edited video produced by the Phoenix Police Department, a spokesman explained that officers were responding to the residence near Chandler Boulevard and Desert Hills Parkway for a domestic violence call placed by a neighbor.

The body-worn camera shows two officers approaching the apartment, knocking on the door and announcing that they are police.

As 40-year-old Ryan Whitaker opens the door, he holds a handgun in his right hand. He immediately moves it behind his back after seeing the officers. Officers scream “hands” and Whitaker backs up, lifts his left hand in the air, squats down and puts the hand with the gun toward the floor.

At this point in the video, an officer fires his gun three times at Whitaker, who falls forward into the walkway.

Police posted the footage of the deadly shooting on their social media channels Wednesday afternoon. You can watch the video here. * WARNING: Video is graphic, viewer discretion advised.*

“They murdered my brother,” Ryan’s sister Katie Baeza wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday. “That cop needs to be fired and rot in prison, COWARD!!!!!!”

According to the Phoenix Police Department, the officer fired his weapon because he believed the other officer was "in imminent danger.” The entire interaction lasted 5 seconds.

Whitaker’s family and friends had pushed for prompt release of the body camera video, which took Phoenix police 55 days to release. The family was particularly upset that Whitaker was shot twice in the back.

“I don’t know what he could’ve done to threaten a police officer because he would never do it,” Whitaker’s friend Tim Sevela said during a vigil for in May. “He would’ve told everyone that’s the wrong thing to do.“

Neighbors who spoke to ABC15 said Whitaker was always friendly and kind. They didn't notice anything unusual before the police gunfire. They said they heard two or three shots, and they saw Whitaker's body lying in the walkway outside his condo. He died at the scene. Police say the girlfriend was uninjured.

Whitaker's family said the couple had not been fighting, but they were playing a video game before going to bed. Whitaker's sister said he took his gun to the door, after having recent trouble with an unknown person banging on the door at night.

"Men don’t go to the door empty-handed when they worry about who’s banging on the door," Baeza said.