Anytime there’s a knock on the door late at night, early in the morning, I don’t even approach the door without a firearm in my hand. While there are plenty of legitimate reasons someone might knock at that time, there are also a whole lot of nefarious reasons for people to do so as well. In fact, I’d say only a fool doesn’t answer the door while armed.
That’s what Ryan Whitaker did when police knocked on his door in the middle of the night.
Despite trying to comply with police instructions, though, Whitaker was killed by law enforcement.
Now, a settlement over his death has been reached.
The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday unanimously agreed to pay $3 million to the family of Ryan Whitaker, who was shot and killed several months ago by police investigating a noise complaint and who did not receive immediate medical assistance after the incident.
Taxpayers will be footing the bill. Taxpayers are also footing the bill for the salaries of the cops—Officer Jeff Cooke, who pulled the trigger, and Officer John Ferragamo, who too was on the call—as they are both still employed by the Phoenix Police Department (PPD).
On May 21 of this year, Whitaker’s upstairs neighbor called in a noise complaint: “I have a domestic dispute going on…and I can tell they’rejust at each other’s throats down there,” a man is heard saying on a 911 call. “I gotta get to work tomorrow and I can’t get no sleep.” Asked by the dispatcher if it sounded like a physical or verbal altercation, the neighbor responded that “it could be physical, I could say yeah, if that makes [the police] hurry up on.”
They were playing Crash Bandicoot, a video game, according to Whitaker’s girlfriend.
When the officers arrived at Whitaker’s apartment, no noise can be heard coming from the unit—potentially an indication that the complainant exaggerated the perceived danger.
Whitaker answered the door with a firearm at his waist, which he legally owned, and can be seen in the body cam footage immediately getting on his knees in surrender. Cooke then shot him twice in the back.
Of course, since Whitaker was white, this didn’t make national headlines like other police shootings might have.
While the settlement is all fine and good, the bigger problem is that Cooke hasn’t been charged for his crimes. Yes, gunning down a man who was in the process of complying with orders, who had done nothing illegal or wrong except be a little noisy, is a criminal act in my book.
Yet because he wears a badge, he’s still working. Yes, it’s a non-enforcement position, but he’s still on the payroll. There’s nothing right about this in the least.
Then again, others should probably be charged as well for failing to get Whitaker the medical treatment that may have saved his life. Inaction can be a criminal act as well, after all, especially if you’re a freaking police officer.
Meanwhile, the national media has all but ignored this. Why? Probably because they’ve been trying to claim law enforcement is systemically racist and this might hurt that narrative, that maybe the problem is that law enforcement lacks training or has some other kind of issue rather than one that makes America look more evil than anyone since the Nazis.
Ryan Whitaker deserves better than that.
Hat tip: Gun Watch