Written by @kristenshylin_
Ryan Whitaker was in the comfort of his Arizona apartment when Phoenix police officer Jeff Cooke and his partner John Ferragamo arrived to respond to a noise complaint filed by a neighbor.
Unaware of who was banging on his door during the middle of the night, the 40-year-old opened the front door holding a gun. He immediately placed his hands behind his back after seeing the officers.
As Whitaker attempted to squat down with his hands in the air, Cooke fired three shots into Whitaker, killing him at the scene.
According to 12 News, the police shooting took place on May 21, but it was not until July 15 that the department released the body cam footage.
You can hear Whitaker’s girlfriend Brandee Nees hysterically crying in the video, asking the officers, “Why did you guys shoot him?”
Cooke responded, “He just pulled a gun on us, ma’am.”
“Because it’s dark, and someone just knocked on the door,” she yelled at Cooke.
During the dispute, the officers ordered Nees to stand away from the scene, including her boyfriend. She repeatedly asked Ferragamo if she could stay with Whitaker to ensure that he is OK, but the officer replied, “I’m leaning toward the fact that he is not.”
Following the release of the video, the department confirmed Jeff Cooke as the shooter who killed Whitaker.
Cooke is currently still employed and has been placed on non-enforcement assignments.
After viewing the footage, the victim’s family called for the department to fire Cooke, ABC 15 reported
Steven Whitaker said his brother obeyed the officers before being repeatedly shot.
“As they say ‘hands, hands, hands,’ he is going to the ground,” Steven said. “He is being submissive. The weapon is going to the ground. He is not a threat.”
Whitaker’s sister, Katie Baeza, urged Police Chief Jeri Williams to fire Cooke and charged him with murder.
“Chief Williams, you want to build trust in this community, yet he is still on your force,” Baeza said. “If you watch that video and you’re OK with it, you need to step down.”
The President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association Michael ‘Brit’ London issued a statement stating that the officer-involved shooting is currently being investigated.
“While the internal and criminal investigations are being conducted and reviewed, we urge the public to refrain from judgment until all the facts are known to ensure due process for those involved in this situation.”