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A footage shows Phoenix man being shot dead by cop when he answered the door with his hands up in the air.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

 The night of May 21, 2020, Officers John Ferragamo and Jeff Cooke responded to a report of possible domestic violence at Whitaker’s Ahwatukee home. Police said Whitaker, 40, was armed when he answered the door. Both Ferragamo and Cooke had body-worn cameras. Video from both cameras released by the Phoenix Police Department less than a month later showed the shooting.

The entire incident was over in seconds.

Cooke fired three rounds. Whitaker appeared to be starting to kneel and putting his hands up when the officer fired. Whitaker was pronounced dead at the scene. No other injuries were reported.

Shortly after the body-cam video was made public, Whitaker's family demanded accountability on the part of the Phoenix Police Department said they wanted to see Cooke arrested and charged with murder.

After months of calls for justice for Ryan, even his brother's smallest memories are like a punch to the gut for Steven Whitaker.

"You never get used to it... that's for sure," Steven told Arizona's Family on Friday. "As much as people say time heals all wounds, I'm waiting for that to happen."

The decision not to charge the officer who shot his brother is a disappointment., he says. "The lack of accountability is a joke, in my opinion. It's a joke," Steven said.

He advocated for Ryan over the summer, traveling to the Valley from his home in California for a press conference with the family.

"You could be doing everything right and still lose your life," Steven said. "And someone's not going to be held accountable because they have a badge, and they say there are in fear of their life."

As someone with a military background, his brother's death shifted his perspective and left him feeling helpless and beyond frustrated. "We've been screaming justice for Ryan since day one... but how? How do you do that?"

Adel said the videos from the body-cams were "reviewed side by side and frame by frame" by investigators, including an outside expert brought in by the Phoenix Police Department.

"When reviewing body worn camera evidence it is always important to realize that while the evidence is extremely useful in determining what happened, due to the placement of the camera on the officer, how the camera works, and how recorded data is compressed, these systems cannot provide us with the actual experience of the officer living the event," she said in a statement explaining how she came to her decision. "I note all of this because I want to be clear that this case was closely analyzed and studied."

She went on to say that while the video shows Whitaker moving to put down his gun, it does not provide insight into what "Officer Cooke reasonably perceived and believed was occurring in the moment he made the decision to fire his weapon."

Adel said, as she has before, that she has to determine both if there was a crime and whether a jury might convict if the case goes to trial.

“Based on the facts and evidence, Officer Cooke was responding to what he was told was an active domestic violence call inside a home,” Adel said in her statement. “Officer Cooke made a decision based on the information he had – he could do no more. Based on what he knew, I cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his decision to use deadly physical force was an unreasonable one.”

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