Phoenix To Settle Fatal Police Shooting Claim For $3 Million

Published: Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 12:24pm
Updated: Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 2:15pm

Phoenix is expected to approve a financial settlement in the case of a man shot and killed by police last May. 

It started with a 911 call about a man and woman arguing at a condo complex in Ahwatukee. About a half hour later, the same neighbor called again. The dispatcher asked if it sounded like the situation had escalated to anything physical. 

Caller: It could be physical, I could say yeah, is that make anybody hurry up or get over here any faster?

Dispatcher: What are you hearing to indicate that it might be physical?

Caller: I hear slamming of doors and I don’t know, somebody could be getting thrown into a door for all I know but I hear all kinds of banging.  

Body camera video shows police announcing themselves and moving to opposite sides of the door, out of direct view. When 40-year old Ryan Whitaker opens the door holding a gun, an officer yells "Hands, hands!" It looks like Whitaker is dropping his weapon and kneeling when one officer fires. The interaction lasts about three seconds.

An internal city document provided to the City Council says, “... body camera video indicates that Mr. Whitaker might have been putting the gun down, but an officer with obstructed view fired.”

On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council will vote on a $3 million settlement for Whitaker’s family. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting.

In August, council members approved a $475,000 settlement after police officers pointed guns at a family and one threatened to shoot the father in front of his kids. The May 2019 video showed officers cursing and pointing guns at Dravon Ames; his pregnant fiancée, Iesha Harper; and their two young daughters. Police said the family was suspected of shoplifting and failed to obey commands.