Council approves $3M payment to family of man killed by Phoenix police

Dec 3, 2020, 2:18 PM
(Phoenix Police Department Screenshot)...
(Phoenix Police Department Screenshot)
(Phoenix Police Department Screenshot)

PHOENIX – The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday approved a $3 million settlement with the family of an Ahwatukee man killed by police earlier this year.

An officer shot Ryan Whitaker, 40, moments after he answered the door of his apartment with a gun in his hand on May 21.

In body camera footage (WARNING: graphic images) released by police, Whitaker appears to back off submissively and move the gun back as soon as he realized officers were the ones knocking on his door around 11 p.m.

Seconds later, an officer standing on the side shot Whitaker three times in the back of his left shoulder.

Police were responding to calls from a neighbor indicating that a verbal argument in the apartment on Desert Foothills Parkway near Chandler Boulevard may have become physical.

During a press conference two months after the incident, Whitaker’s brother Steven described how Ryan attempted to follow the officer’s commands after answering the door.

“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 also denied claims of domestic and said the loud noises coming from the apartment were from video games with loud music.

“The 911 dispatch officer used poor judgment and escalated the call and needs to be fired in my opinion,” Whitaker’s sister, Katie Baeza said during the press conference.

“The 911 caller should have charges brought against him for falsely and knowingly escalating that call.”

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday that it was still reviewing the case to determine if criminal charges should be filed.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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Council approves $3M payment to family of man killed by Phoenix police