The shooting is an example of how a series of events gone wrong can result in a life-changing, life-ending incident.
On this night two Phoenix police officers responded to a noise complaint after their dispatcher had received two separate calls reporting a domestic violence situation at the apartment of Ryan Whitaker.
The person who called in the complaint told the dispatcher that he couldn’t sleep because of the noise coming from Ryan Whitaker’s apartment… He described the noise as two people arguing and screaming at each other but on his second call, he told the dispatcher he believed the screaming had escalated to a physical fight…
“It could be physical, I could say yeah if that makes anybody hurry on up… Get anybody here faster.” The caller told the dispatcher the second time he called.
The responding officers suspected it was an exaggerated call and they are heard mocking the caller on their way to the apartment when one officer says, “Did you like all that helpful info we got from our complainant? I’m just gonna say yes to all the questions to get the officers here faster,” he says sarcastically.
As they approach the apartment they can hear no noise at all… No loud noises, screaming, or fighting coming from the unit, but they still treated the call seriously and each officer took up a position on opposite sides of the door before knocking and announcing that they were the Phoenix police.
Someone had knocked on Mr. Whitaker’s door in the middle of the night recently so when he heard this knock on his door late at night, probably not hearing that they identified themselves as the Phoenix police, he answered the door with a handgun in his hand…
The police officers immediately notice the gun and draw their weapons and as Mr. Whitaker was trying to get on his knees and signal to them that he was not a threat one of the officers opens fire and shoots him several times in the back killing the 40-year-old who had been playing videos games when the police showed up.
Whitaker’s girlfriend who was in the apartment hears the shots and comes to the door and was made to get on her knees initially and was screaming “why did you shoot him?” One of the officers responds because he had a gun.
The one officer who had not fired any shots eventually removes Mr. Whitaker’s girlfriend from the scene where Mr. Whitaker could be heard struggling to take his last breaths.
Mr. Whitaker’s girlfriend tells the one police officer that they were playing video games and making salsa and that there was no arguing for fighting going on at all… She said any screaming was when they were playing the video game and became excited.
The shooting is still under investigation and Mr. Whitaker’s family has hired an attorney. The entire situation is very unfortunate and many who watch this will think the officer should not have shot and while I agree if you consider the totality of the situation and the information the officers were provided and then a man opens the door with a gun in his hand it’s not hard to understand why the officer perceived his as a threat… A lot of things went wrong here and it’s unfortunate…
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