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Aug 7, 2020
Ryan Whitaker was sitting at home with his girlfriend playing video games when he was killed by police.
A noise complaint from an annoyed neighbor resulted in cops shooting and killing a man within five seconds of him opening his front door.
Ryan Whitaker opened the door holding a gun in his right hand which is legal in Arizona but it made the cops fear for their lives.
However, the cops never gave him a chance to put the gun down which he appeared to be trying to do when one cop shot him in the back three times.
“Why did you guys shoot him?” Whitaker’s girlfriend, Brandee Nees, yelled as she stepped into the doorway.
“He just pulled a gun on us, ma’am,” Phoenix police officer Jeff Cooke said.
“Because it’s dark and someone just knocked on the door,” Nees responded.
When Phoenix police officer John Ferragamo asked Nees if she and Whitaker had been fighting, she told him they were only playing video games.
“Literally we were making salsa and playing Crash Bandicoot so there may have been some screaming from PlayStation but it wasn’t domestic violence or anything,” she said.
The incident took place on May 22 after an upstairs neighbor called police to complain about the noise.
“I gotta get to work tomorrow and I’m getting no sleep,” said the neighbor in the second 911 call he made to police at 10:44 p.m.
When the dispatcher asked if the verbal argument has turned physical, he said it had turned physical but sounded as if he was just saying that to get police to respond quicker.
“It could be physical,” he said. “I could say yeah if that makes anybody hurry on up. Get anybody here faster.”
The cops arrived eight minutes later and knocked on the door with one of them yelling “Phoenix police” before both of them stepped off to the side, making it impossible for anybody to see them through the peephole. When Whitaker opened the door with the gun to his side, the cops shined their flashlights in his face, blinding him before noticing the gun.
“Whoa! Hands! Hands! Hands!” Ferragamo yelled as Whitaker lowered his body with his left hand in the air and his right hand appearing to be putting the gun down.
Cooke then fired three times, shooting him in the back.
Earlier that day, Whitaker had attended his daughter’s high school graduation.
Ryan Whitaker with his children at his daughter’s graduation.
Whitaker’s family has been demanding justice for his slaying, according to AZ Central:
“They shot my brother in cold blood and murdered him – murdered him,” Steven said.
He challenged Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams to fire Cooke, who has been with Phoenix PD for about three years, and arrest him for murder.
“We want justice for Ryan,” he said. “Be accountable for your actions. Hold people accountable.”
“This proved everything I’ve been saying,” Whitaker’s sister, Katie Baeza, said. “In a fraction of a second, Jeff Cooke was a judge, jury and executioner of my brother.”
“If you watch that video and are OK with it, you need to step down,” she continued, directing her comment at Williams. She also said the man who called 911 escalated the situation unnecessarily and should be held accountable for that.
Bodycam footage was released last month but police say they are still “investigating” whether they will charge Cooke.
The video above includes the shooting from both cameras, including portions in slow motion as well as statements from Whitaker’s girlfriend that they were not fighting. The 911 call that claimed they were fighting is also included. The caller has not been identified