PHOTO CREDITS: PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE
Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old black man, was shot and killed by Philadelphia Police during a mental health crisis Monday afternoon.
Following the shooting that took place on October 26, two nights of protests/riots manifested in the city. The officers involved in the shooting have yet to be named.
The police shooting of Wallace was captured on video by JaHiem Simpson, who said that commotion and arguing had taken place prior to the 911 call. According to Simpson, Wallace exited a house with a knife, and proceeded to approach the officers with the knife in hand, apparently experiencing a mental health crisis. According to CNN, witnesses and officers told Wallce to put the knife down. Officers drew their handguns at the sight of the knife in Wallace’s hand, and then shot him when he did not comply with their orders to drop the knife as he approached (CNN).
The video showed the police backing up into the street as Wallace approached with a knife. In the video, the officers could be heard verbally shouting “Put the knife down” twice. Wallace continued towards the police, in which they proceeded to fire fourteen shots at Wallace. Wallace was then taken to Presbyterian Hospital by an officer in their police cruiser, where he died.
According to Simpson, a woman told the police that Wallace had mental health issues. He later learned that the woman was Wallace’s mother. Shaka Johnson, the Wallace family’s attorney, said that the Wallaces made at least three calls to authorities that day.
On Tuesday night, the family contested the claims that Wallace posed a serious threat to the officers, and argued that the police involved were aware that Wallace was experiencing a mental health crisis. The officers had reportedly visited the house three times prior to the shooting on Monday. Cathy Wallace, Walter’s mother, said that “they stood there and laughed at us,” during one of the visits. The family had originally made the call requesting an ambulance for medical assistance, not police intervention.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office revealed that the officers did not have tasers. At a press conference one day after the shooting, Johnson said, “When you come to a scene where somebody is in a mental crisis, and the only tool you have to deal with it is a gun … where are the proper tools for the job?”
Protests following the shooting took place on Monday and Tuesday nights, of which some turned violent. Alleged looting and assault on police have been reported, with a total of 172 arrests being reported and 53 injured officers as of Wednesday evening. Protests that took place Monday resulted in 30 injured officers, largely due to thrown projectiles. One officer was reportedly struck by a pickup truck and taken to the hospital for a broken leg and other injuries, according to the police.
Tuesday protests began peacefully, involving a large group of protestors marching and chanting, “Say his name!” followed by, “Walter Wallace!” However, the protest turned violent as a group of police officers met the crowd near Philadelphia Police 18th District. “I do not want to see my city torn down. We don’t need that. You’re not resolving anything for our family. Don’t do this in the name of my nephew because this is not what he would’ve wanted,” said Wallace’s uncle, Rodney Everett (CBS).
Mayor Jim Kenney told reporters that the Pennsylvania National Guard would be deployed Friday and Saturday to help protect property and assist the police. The police commissioner in Philadelphia said Wednesday that 911 tapes and body camera footage will be released “in the near future” by her department. Also announced Wednesday was a new curfew to be enacted in the city from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Walter Wallace Jr. had a family of nine children and his pregnant wife Dominique Wallace, who is due to give birth this week (AP News).
ARTICLE: EVAN STOGSDILL
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE