More than 130 days later, family of Phoenix man shot by police demands justice

On July 16, the family of a 40-year-old man who died following an officer-involved shooting held a news conference to discuss the body camera footage released by police.

Now, on Oct. 5, they continue their demand for justice.

Body camera video captures moments leading up to shooting

Phoenix Police released body camera video of a shooting in May, 2020 that took the life of 40-year-old Ryan Whitaker. (Courtesy: Phoenix Police Department)

On July 15, Phoenix Police officials released an edited video from the body cameras of both officers from the night of May 21 at the San Simeon condominiums near Chandler Boulevard and Desert Foothills Parkway. The officers were dispatched to the area for what was described as a domestic violence incident.

"I can tell they're just at each other's throats down there," said a man on one of two 911 calls released by Phoenix Police officials.

In the second 911 call, the caller told 911 dispatchers the incident could be physical.

"Does it sound like it's escalated to any physical, or still just sounds verbal?" asked the 911 dispatcher.

" could be physical, I could say, year, if that makes anybody hurry up on -- get over here any faster," the man on the second 911 call replied. "I hear slamming of doors, and -- I don't know, somebody could be gettin' thrown into a door for all I know, but I hear all kinds of banging."

When the two officers arrived, one of them banged on the door and announced themselves as Phoenix Police officers.

Moments later, the man, identified as Ryan Whitaker, opens the door, takes a quick step outside while holding a handgun behind his back. The officers shout out for him to get on the ground, which he does.

Whitaker appears to be in the process of raising his hands when one officer opens fire, shooting in Whitaker's direction three times -- hitting him twice.

Whitaker was pronounced dead at the scene. He did not open fire and no one else at the scene was hurt.

The officer said it looked like Whitaker was reaching for his gun and he feared for their safety.

On July 16, Phoenix Police released an incident report related to the incident, and the officers involved were identified as 33-year-old Jeff Cooke and 53-year-old John Ferragamo.

As for the domestic violence call, Whitaker's girlfriend, identified in Phoenix Police documents says there was no violence. They were simply playing a loud video game.

Police say the shooting is being investigated internally and criminally.

Family: Phoenix Police botched the situation from the start

During the news conference, members of Whitaker's family say they want both officers fired, and the officer who fired his weapon to be charged with murder.

“The Phoenix PD murdered my brother," said Whitaker's brother, Steven Whitaker. "They murdered my brother."

"In a matter of seconds, Jeff Cooke became the judge, jury, and executioner of my brother," said Whitaker's sister, Katie Baeza.

In addition, the family also wants the dispatch officer fired for escalating the situation and charges filed against the people who called 911, claiming there was a domestic violence situation happening at the time.

Whitaker's family says he did not know police were at the door. They call it murder.

"He's not a threat.. not a threat at all. How is he a threat? If he is a threat to you as a police officer, you need to turn in your weapon and your badge and walk away. You are not fit to be a cop in this state," said Steven. "Phoenix PD wonders why there's lack of trust right now in Phoenix PD. There's no accountability. There's no transparency."

"Somethings got to change," said Whitaker's father, Alan Whitaker.

Oct. 5 protest in honor of Whitaker

Family members, and a few hundred demonstrators, stood outside the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. They want charges filed against the officer who shot Whitaker.

Four months since the shooting, the case is still in the hands of the county attorney.

"We want justice. We want justice," the crowd chanted.

"It's been 137 days since they shot and killed my brother and it was all on video," Ryan's brother, Steven Whitaker, said.

Family members want Ferragamo and Cooke fired, but for Cooke to have more punishment since he was the one who shot Whitaker.

Whitaker's brother says he's never heard from the Maricopa County Attorney, but that won't stop his fight for justice.

"What justice looks like is holding someone accountable, holding an officer accountable when he does something wrong because accountability will breed good order and discipline throughout the Phoenix Police Department, throughout any police department," his brother said.

Phoenix Police say Ferragamo returned to patrol, meanwhile Cooke is on a non-enforcement assignment.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office did not respond to FOX 10's request for comment on Oct. 5.

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