AHWATUKEE, AZ — The Phoenix Police Department has begun the process to fire the officer who shot and killed Ahwatukee father Ryan Whitaker last summer.
Whitaker, 40, was shot in the back two times, less than three seconds after he answered the door of his Ahwatukee apartment in May 2020. He answered the door while holding a gun at his side, which his family said was because of recent issues with someone banging on their door at night.
Body camera video shows Whitaker immediately move the gun 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 that moment, 2.6 seconds after Whitaker answers the door, an officer fires his gun three times in less than a second. Whitaker falls forward into the walkway.
Police said Thursday, "On May 26, 2021, the Use of Force Board, comprised of sworn staff and community members, reviewed the shooting involving Officer Jeff Cooke, and recommended the incident be designated as within policy. After extensive review of the totality of the circumstances, Chief Williams has notified Officer Cooke of the intent to move forward to end his employment with the Phoenix Police Department. The administrative process is still underway. In the interim, Officer Cooke remains on administrative leave."
Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Michael "Britt" London issued a statement Thursday in response to the department's decision.
"The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association is disappointed in the decision by the Phoenix Police Department to terminate Officer Jeff Cooke due to a shooting deemed in-policy by the Department’s Use of Force Board and will support him through the appeal process," said London.
Phoenix police officer Jeff Cooke, who shot Ryan Whitaker (pictured) twice in the back, killing the legally-armed father just outside his doorway, has been told by Chief Williams that she “intends” to fire him.— Zach Crenshaw (@ZachCrenshaw) July 22, 2021
A long process will still play out & he can appeal. pic.twitter.com/Q0qpBrJjWN
Police also said Thursday another officer, Officer Ferragamo, remains on full duty.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced in January 2021 that the officer who shot and killed him, Officer Jeff Cooke, would not face any charges in the incident. Officer Cooke told investigators he fired his weapon because he believed the other officer was "in imminent danger."