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Body camera video released in police shooting and death of Ahwatukee man

Ryan Whitaker was killed back on May 21st as police say they were responding to a domestic violence call.

PHOENIX — New video released by Phoenix Police is providing a look into what happened when an Ahwatukee man was shot and killed by an officer.

Ryan Whitaker was killed back on May 21, as police say they were responding to a domestic violence call.

A caller told a 911 dispatcher there appeared to be a domestic violence situation at an apartment complex near Chandler Boulevard and Desert Foothills Parkway.

“I can tell they’re at each other’s throats down there,” The caller said.

A while later, the person called back a second time.

“Does it sound like it’s escalated to anything physical or does it just sound verbal,” A dispatcher asked the caller.

“Oh it could be physical, I could say yeah if that makes anybody hurry up,” The caller said.

In the police report, Whitaker’s girlfriend “emphasized there was no altercation between the two of them.” But said the pair was playing video games.

When police arrived, the edited footage released by Phoenix Police shows an officer knocking on the door and yelling out “Phoenix Police.”

Whitaker is seen opening the door with a gun in his hand. Phoenix Police reports say Whitaker came out of the door “aggressively.”

It’s just seconds before an officer shoots Whitaker.

“I think the officers shot too quickly here,” Criminal defense attorney Marc Victor said.

Victor said he believes officers didn’t give Whitaker enough time to put the gun down.

“There’s nothing that violates Arizona law, unless a person is a prohibited possessor, from simply having a gun in their hand,” Victor said.


The family of Ryan Whitaker news conference

The family of Ryan Whitaker responds to the recent release of body camera footage of a deadly officer-involved shooting in Ahwatukee.

Posted by 12 News on Thursday, July 16, 2020

“But it looked to me like this person who came out, the victim, sees that, recognizes he had a gun in his hand and then immediately surrenders.”

It’s that idea of bringing the gun to the door that concerns former longtime assistant Phoenix Police chief Kevin Robinson.

“It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances,” Robinson said. “Personally I just wish he would not have come to the door with a gun in his hand.”

Robinson said training could have been why the officer made the split-second decision to shoot.

“As that gentleman is starting to do whatever he’s doing, he very well could have been going into a shooting stance, at least in the mind of the officer who fired,” Robinson said.

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio raised questions about the shooting in a statement:

"First, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the Whitaker family. I have had serious questions about this incident from the beginning, and have pushed Phoenix Police to release this information as soon as possible. Based on the horrific events we witnessed in the Critical Incident Briefing video, I will continue to insist on a thorough and comprehensive investigation of this case. I have serious concerns about the nature of the 911 call and how that information was relayed to our officers, as well as the actions of the shooting officer. Again, I want to extend my sincere regrets to the Whitaker family, and thank them for their patience throughout this long and terrible process."

Whitaker’s family is calling for the officers to fired and want charges brought against them.

Phoenix Police say the case is being internally and criminally investigated.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office confirms they are reviewing the case.

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