Philadelphia police fatally shot a 27-year-old Black man, Walter Wallace, on Monday (October 26th) afternoon.
Around 4 p.m. police said they were responding to reports claiming Wallace was armed with a knife in Philadelphia’s Cobbs Creek neighborhood. He was shot nearly a dozen times by officers in front of his mother who attempted to de-escalate the situation. He was pronounced dead after he was driven to a medical center. Wallace’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., told the Philadelphia Inquirer his son was on medication for mental health issues:
“He said his son struggled with mental health issues and was on medication… Why you have to gun him down?”
On Monday, a video of the violent incident recorded by a bystander was posted on Twitter and it was shared widely. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump amplified the shooting on his personal account. In the clip, the recorder can be heard saying, “Y’all didn’t have to give him that many fucking shots.”
Following Wallace’s death, the city erupted into protests which led to the injury of 30 officers, per CNN. Police say due to the swift protests businesses were looted and 10 people were arrested.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said she’s fully committed to a complete investigation. She adds she felt the anger of the community when she visited the scene following the incident.
Outlaw released the following statement:
“I have directed the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit to begin its investigation. I recognize that the video of the incident raises many questions. Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation.”
“I have watched the video of the tragic incident and it presents difficult questions that must be answered,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. Additionally, Kenney shared he’d already spoken with Wallace’s family.
What Led To Walter Wallace’s Fatal Shooting?
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer shortly before 4 p.m., police said, two officers responded to the 6100 block of Locust Street following a report of a man with a knife. The family identified him as Walter Wallace.
In a video that was shared on social media, Wallace is seen walking towards officers and police backing away. The clip then swings out of view and shots are fired, but Wallace appears to be multiple feet from the officers at the moment the gunshots rang.
Sgt. Eric Gripp, police spokesperson said the officers ordered Wallace to put the weapon down and that he “advanced towards” them. He also stated investigators are reviewing footage and that both officers involved were wearing body cameras.
Gripp declared both officers fired “several times.” His recollection of the incident also notes once Wallace was shot he fell to the ground, he added one of the officers then drove him to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. He was pronounced dead there.
A witness, Maurice Holloway tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was on a street speaking to his aunt when he saw police arrive. From his viewpoint, he saw Wallace had a knife and stood on the front porch of his home. He claims officers immediately drew their guns on Wallace.
According to Holloway’s account, Wallace’s mother “chased after him as he walked down the steps of his porch.” He still had the knife at this point. His mother tried to shield him and tell the police he was her son.
Holloway also alleges that he was yelling “Put down the gun, put down the gun,” and that people could be heard saying, “Don’t shoot him, he’s gonna put it down, we know him.” Wallace then brushed off his mother and walked behind a car before his appearing again.
“He turns and then you hear shots,” says Holloway. “They were too far from him; it was so many shots.”
Witnesses and family members said the officers fired possibly a dozen or more times. Gripp said it was currently unknown how many times Wallace was shot and where he suffered gunshot wounds.
Has Walter Wallace’s Family Responded Publicly?
Walter Wallace Sr., his father has responded to the incident and said his son appeared to have been shot 10 times. Outside of a family residence, he asked, “Why didn’t they use a taser?” He also claimed: “His mother was trying to defuse the situation.”
Wallace Sr. shared that his son struggled with mental health issues and was on medication. “He has mental issues,” he said.
What Happened Immediately Following the Shooting?
Both officers involved in the incident were taken off street duty pending an investigation. They have not been identified.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw arrived at the scene of the investigation a bit after the incident. A crowd of neighbors reportedly yelled at police and inquired why deadly force was used. By 6:30, police had reopened the street and the crowd had left.
Late Monday evening, dozens of protestors gathered at Malcolm X Park at 51st and Pine Streets and chanted, “Black lives matter.” Then for hours, protestors faced off with officers who reportedly stood in a line outfitted with riot shields. The officers stood behind metal barricades at the station.
Following protests, police arrested about 20 people in response to looting at numerous stores in West Philadelphia, University City, Overbrook Park, and Center City. We previously mentioned 10 people were detained overnight and 30 officers were injured. Police said those people are slated to be released “pending possible charges of assaulting police or rioting.”
Earlier this year, following George Floyd‘s death, the 52nd Street was where protesters responded to the incident and battled with police. This happened throughout the nationwide protests on May 31 and early June. The clashes between officers and protesters led to the use of tear gas on residential streets and the shelling out of rubber bullets.