On Monday, police officers in West Philadelphia shot and killed a Black man, sparking protests that lasted deep into the night. More than 300 people marched through the streets early Tuesday morning after 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr.’s shooting was captured on video.
According to the police report and videos captured of the shooting, officers responded to a report of a man armed with a knife around 4:00 p.m. on Monday. The man, later identified as Wallace, is seen in the bystander footage walking into the street as two police officers aim their guns at him. The officers quickly step out into the street appearing to create space. Wallace then steps out into the street and walks toward them. The camera points down toward the ground and about a dozen shots can be heard amid screaming from other bystanders. When the camera pans back up two seconds later, Wallace falls to the ground and people rush toward him.
“Bro, they just killed him in front of me,” said one man, though it is unclear if he is the one taking the video. “Y’all ain’t have to give him that many shots.” Wallace was reportedly taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center by one of the officers, where he died. In response to Wallace’s death, Mayor Jim Kenney said the fatal shooting raised “difficult questions that must be answered.”
Sgt. Eric Gripp, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department told Refinery29 that the officers ordered Wallace to drop the weapon and that he “advanced toward the officers.” Both officers, who have not been publicly identified, were wearing body cameras that Gripp says is being reviewed by investigators. According to one report, both officers have been taken off of street duty pending an investigation. Refinery29 followed up with the Philadelphia Police Department, but they declined to confirm at this time.
Wallace’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., told the Philadelphia Inquirer that his son struggled with mental health issues and was on medication. “Why didn’t they use a Taser?” he asked. “His mother was trying to defuse the situation. He has mental issues. Why you have to gun him down?”
Then, around 9:30 p.m on Monday, protestors marched in the streets chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Say his name: Walter Wallace.” Shortly after 11:00 p.m., a video posted on Twitter showed police officers using batons as they clashed with a group of people on a residential street. Taryn Naundorff, who recorded the video on her phone told the New York Times, that the police “started forcefully pushing back the crowd and beating anyone who wouldn’t back up.” According to a local NBC television station, at least one police car was set on fire at another location.
On Monday night, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said that Philadelphia Police Department would conduct a full investigation into the shooting. “While at the scene this evening, I heard and felt the anger of the community. Everyone involved will forever be impacted,” she said. “I will be leaning on what the investigation gleans to answer the many unanswered questions that exist. I also plan to join the Mayor in meeting with members of the community and members of Mr. Wallace’s family to hear their concerns as soon as it can be scheduled.”
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