Police officers in Philadelphia shot and killed a Black man as he walked toward them in the street on Monday afternoon. Police said the man was carrying a knife.
Footage of the shooting circulated on social media. It shows two officers with their guns drawn walking backward as the man approaches them. The police fire multiple times, and the man crumples to the ground. He died of his injuries at a nearby hospital, the Inquirer reported.
Wallace’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., told the newspaper that his son had mental health problems. “Why didn’t they use a Taser?” the father asked. “His mother was trying to defuse the situation.”
Wallace had recently gotten married, was a dad, and “didn’t deserve what he got,” his family said in a statement, according to NBC Philadelphia.
“Walter was a nice man he would do anything and everything for anybody,” the family said. “No matter what the favor was or what time it was he would always come through. And, he was a family man, he just recently got married to Dominique and he got seven kids plus one due any day.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that he had been in touch with the young man’s family and that the incident would be undergoing an investigation.
“My prayers are with the family and friends of Walter Wallace,” Kenney said. “I have watched the video of this tragic incident and it presents difficult questions that must be answered.”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw confirmed there would be an investigation.
“I recognize that the video of the incident raises many questions,” Outlaw said in a statement. “Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation.”
In a statement, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier called for body camera footage of the incident to be released.
“We must acknowledge that things did not need to play out this way,” Gauthier said. “Resorting to the use of a service weapon should be the absolute last resort for any officer. Had these officers employed de-escalation techniques and non-lethal weapons rather than making the split-second decision to fire their guns, this young man might still have his life tonight.”
“Had these officers valued the life of this Black man — had they treated him as a person experiencing mental health issues, instead of a criminal — we might be spared our collective outrage at yet another injustice at the hands of police,” Gauthier said.
Philadelphia, like many other cities across the country, was the site of major protests this summer after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Thousands of peaceful protesters marched through Philadelphia’s downtown; some people burned police vehicles, ransacked stores, and clashed with police.
Between 100 and 200 protesters gathered after Wallace’s death on Monday night, in a neighborhood where people had demonstrated over Floyd’s death, the Inquirer reported.
Early Tuesday morning, a speeding truck ran over a police officer who was on duty at the protests. Philadelphia’s local Fox TV station reported that the officer is in the hospital with a broken leg.