AMERICA—Ryan Whitaker, a 40-year-old resident of Ahwatukee, Arizona, was gunned down inside his house by uniformed police officers on May 21, after they were dispatched to the area, due to a noise complaint from a neighbor.
Ryan, who was a gun owner, approached his front door with a 9mm handgun, in an attempt to protect himself, after hearing similar knocking noises earlier in the week. When he answered the door, police yelled out “hands!” as he was getting on his knees, then he was shot twice in the back and killed.
Officer Jeff Cooke was the one who fired on Ryan, killing him, while his partner Officer John Ferragamo did not discharge his weapon. Police body cam footage, which was released to the public almost two months later, showed the officers were standing on both sides of the door, so as to not be seen through the peephole.
According to Matthew Cunningham, the family’s lawyer, Ryan did not fire his weapon, and was putting it down right before he was shot. Ryan’s girlfriend, Brandee Nees, who was in the house with him, asked why he was shot afterwards, and Officer Cooke replied, “He pulled a gun on us, ma’am.”
The Phoenix Police Department stated that Officer Cooke chose to fire his weapon, because he believed his life was “in imminent danger.”
Officers did not attempt to give Ryan aid, as he laid on the ground following the shooting, also not allowing Brandee to go up to him to see if he’s okay. The body cam footage showed one of the officers putting a gun on Ryan, as he laid on the ground, and the other officer talking to his girlfriend.
During a vigil for Ryan in May, his friend Tim Sevela stated, “I don’t know what he could’ve done to threaten a police officer because he would never do it. He would’ve told everyone that’s the wrong thing to do.”
Ryan’s family has started an online petition to have the officers responsible arrested and also put together a Facebook page titled “Justice for Ryan Whitaker.”