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Bodycam video of former San Diego man shot to death by Phoenix officers released

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 21:00:33-04

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KGTV) - A San Diego woman is demanding answers from Phoenix police after her uncle was shot to death by officers outside his apartment.

This week, ABC10 News spoke to 18-year-old San Diegan Sadie Whitaker about her family's outrage surrounding the death of her 40-year-old uncle, Ryan Whitaker, who was shot by Phoenix police in May. It was captured on police body camera video that was just released.

“I feel like this needs to be heard everywhere. It needs to be national news. It was just wrong,” said Sadie.

Police said a concerned neighbor called in to report that Whitaker and his girlfriend may have been having a physical fight inside their Phoenix apartment.

In the police body camera video, officers are heard knocking on the door and identifying themselves. Whitaker opens the door and appears to step out with a gun in his right hand which he then appears puts behind his back and lowers to the ground with his left hand visibly in the air. The encounter quickly escalates and shots are heard being fired.

Police said the second officer in the video shot Whitaker, believing the first officer was in immediate danger. Whitaker did not fire, they report.

Sadie tells ABC10 News that a few days before that, someone had knocked on their door but took off.

“This night, when the same thing happened, he brought his gun to the door for protection,” Sadie added.

She said his gun was legally purchased and he had no criminal history.

After shots were fired, Whitaker's girlfriend appears to become hysterical. She’s heard asking why officers shot him. An officer is heard telling her that Whitaker had just pulled a gun on them. She responds that it’s dark and someone just knocked on the door.

An officer is heard saying, “Your neighbor called saying he heard you guys going at it.” She responds, “Literally, we were making salsa and playing Crash Bandicoot so there may have been some screaming from PlayStation but it wasn't domestic violence or anything.”

“I do not think [the shooting] was justified whatsoever,” said Sadie.

Whitaker's family is calling for the officers to be terminated and face criminal prosecution.

“I want there to be awareness and I want people to know that this kind of stuff is going on,” Sadie says.

Phoenix Police told ABC10 News that they can’t comment because of pending litigation. The officer who fired rounds is now reportedly assigned to a non-enforcement position.