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Posted on July 29, 2020 in Domestic Violence

Phoenix Police Video Shows Officer Shooting and Killing Ahwatukee Man

The Phoenix police department released camera footage of a police-involved shooting that occurred in May. The family of the man killed by police is demanding justice. They demand that the Police Chief fire the officer and charge him with murder.

On May 21, a person made 911 calls claiming that there was a domestic violence situation. The 911 caller reported a domestic dispute. The caller said he could tell the people were “at each other’s throats.”

In a second 911 call, the caller said that the incident could be physical, but appeared to be unsure. He claimed he could say the situation was physical if that makes someone hurry up and get here faster. Police officers were dispatched after the second 911 call.

Two Phoenix police officers arrived at the incident location in Phoenix’s Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhood near Desert Foothills Parkway and Chandler Boulevard. The police video shows the officers knock on the door and announce one time that they were police officers. The officers place themselves on either side of the doorway.

The victim, identified as 40-year-old Ryan Whitaker, answered the door with a gun in his hand. Whitaker stepped outside the door but did not fire his weapon. In the video, it appears that Whitaker was beginning to kneel on the ground while putting his hands up when he was shot.

Police officials claim that the officer who shot Whitaker, Officer Jeff Cooke, feared for the life of his partner when he shot Whitaker. Officer Jeff Cook fired three times. Whitaker died from gunshot wounds in his back.

In the video, Whitaker’s girlfriend screamed and asked police officers why they shot him. One of the officers responded that Whitaker had pulled a gun on him. The girlfriend explained that it was dark and someone knocked on the door.

The girlfriend also explained later that there was no incident of domestic violence. She said they were playing a video game, which could have been the source of the screaming.

Phoenix Police officials cite the pending litigation as the reason why they cannot discuss the shooting. Whitaker’s family is calling the shooting murder. They claim that Whitaker was pro-police and would never have answered the door with a gun if he had known that the police were at the door.

The family members claim that the video shows that Whitaker was not resisting and was taking a defensive stance when Officer Cooke shot him in the back. The victim’s brother stated that the police shot his brother in cold blood and murdered him.

Domestic Violence Allegations in Phoenix

Sadly, it appears that the above shooting stemmed from allegations of domestic abuse by a neighbor. The facts of the case are yet to be determined.

Law enforcement agencies and the court system take allegations of domestic violence very seriously. Even false allegations of domestic abuse or violence can result in an arrest, jail time, and an order of protection. Emergency orders of protection can be entered very quickly.

A protection order can:

  • Prohibit all forms of communication with the alleged victim
  • Require a person to move out of the home shared with the victim
  • Restrict visitation with the parties’ children
  • Restrict where a person may visit
  • Require the person to surrender his or her firearms and other weapons
  • Mandate that the person complete a court-ordered domestic violence program

Because domestic violence allegations can result in criminal penalties, protection orders, and negative outcomes in divorce and custody matters, it is generally in a person’s best interest to contact a domestic violence lawyer as soon as the person is aware that he or she may be facing domestic violence allegations.

Domestic Violence Laws Cover a Variety of Actions

Domestic violence laws in Arizona are not limited to physical violence against another person. Many criminal offenses that can result in allegations of domestic violence.

Some criminal offenses that could also result in charges of domestic violence include, but are not limited to:

Domestic violence charges can be misdemeanors or felonies. Aggravating factors, such as using a weapon in the commission of domestic violence, can increase the severity of the criminal charges the person faces. Aggravating factors can also increase the severity of the punishments ordered by the court for a conviction of domestic violence or other underlying criminal offenses.

Police officers often err on the side of caution and arrest individuals for domestic violence with very little evidence. If you are charged with domestic violence, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Domestic violence charges are serious. Do not ignore these charges or assume that you can explain your side of the story to avoid a protective order or other consequences of domestic violence charges.