Family of man killed by Phoenix police says poor judgment led to shooting

Jul 17, 2020, 4:45 AM | Updated: 8:40 am

Steven Whitaker speaking during a gathering outside of Phoenix City Hall on Thursday. (Screenshot)...

Steven Whitaker speaking during a gathering outside of Phoenix City Hall on Thursday. (Screenshot)


PHOENIX — Almost two months after Ryan Whitaker was shot and killed by Phoenix police in his Ahwatukee apartment doorway, the department released details and video footage to his family.

Thursday, his family held a news conference outside of Phoenix City Hall.

Over 50 people who called the 40-year-old Ryan Whitaker a father, son, brother and friend gathered wearing white shirts that read #JusticeForRyan.

On the back-left shoulder of the shirt were two bullet holes, displaying where he was shot and killed by police.

During the news conference, members of Whitaker’s family said they want both officers fired and the officer who shot him (WARNING: Graphic content) to be charged with murder.

Whitaker’s brother Steven described how Ryan attempted to follow the officer’s commands after his brother had opened the door with a gun in his hand.

“You can see the very second he identifies it’s police on the other side of that door, you can see it in his face and he immediately takes a defensive position, very submissive,” he said.

Whitaker’s family believes he did not know it was police at the door or else he would have never opened the door with a weapon in his hand.

The origin of why police were even at Whitaker’s apartment in late May is also being questioned by the family.

“Two officers responded to a fabricated 911 call of a domestic violence dispute,” that’s how Steven Whitaker described the call reported by a neighbor.

Police included some of the 911 call in its critical incident briefing released to the public on Wednesday. The Whitaker family now believes the nature of the police officer’s response was impacted by what was included in that conversation.

“The 911 dispatch officer used poor judgment and escalated the call and needs to be fired in my opinion,” Whitaker’s sister, Katie Baeza added. “The 911 caller should have charges brought against him for falsely and knowingly escalating that call.”

The Whitaker family denies there being any sort of domestic violence on the night of his death. They claim the loud noises coming from his apartment were from Whitaker and his girlfriend playing video games with loud music.

“My brother was pro-law enforcement 100%, he wanted to be a police officer,” Steven Whitaker added. “If he knew cops were on the other side of that door that weapon would have never came out of that nightstand.”

No lawsuit has been filed against the city of Phoenix. The attorney representing the Whitaker family, Matt Cunningham, confirmed to KTAR News 92.3 FM they are still waiting for more information they have requested from the Phoenix Police Department.

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Family of man killed by Phoenix police says poor judgment led to shooting