Walter Wallace Jr, 27, was killed by Philadelphia police officers on Monday. Family members say he was suffered a mental health episode at the time
The family of Walter Wallace Jr, who was shot dead by police in Philadelphia this week while suffering a mental breakdown, say they won’t be calling for the officers involved to be charged with murder.
Wallace, 27, was shot dead Monday while holding a knife during a confrontation with two police officers in West Philadelphia. His family said he suffered from bipolar disorder and was in a crisis at the time of the shooting.
After reviewing bodycam footage of the fatal incident, the Wallace family lawyer Shaka Johnson said during a press conference Thursday that it was clear the officers were ‘improperly trained and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job.’
Johnson said the footage shows one of the officers saying ‘shoot him’ before they both fired at Wallace, at least 14 times, after he failed to heed their orders to drop his knife. He said the footage also showed that Wallace was in the midst of an ‘obvious mental health crisis.’
‘It was instant panic from those officers,’ Johnson added.
After reviewing bodycam footage of the fatal incident, the Wallace family lawyer Shaka Johnson said during a press conference Thursday that it was clear the officers were ‘improperly trained’ and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job’
Footage shot on a witness’s smartphone shows the moment Wallace was fatally shot in West Philadelphia on Monday
The footage of the shooting, which is around 40 seconds long, reportedly shows Wallace emerging from a home along the 6100 block of Locust Street with a knife as his family members shout out ‘he’s mental, he’s mental’ to warn the officers of his condition.
‘When Mr. Wallace comes out of the house, at least on this video we don’t hear him say anything,’ Johnson said. ‘It seems to be a person in sort of a cloud or a stupor or just not appreciating the gravity of that particular moment, which would align perfectly with what the family was shouting.
‘He was behaving like a person who didn’t appreciate the gravity of the circumstances,’ he continued.
The two officers are heard giving 20 to 25 verbal warnings to Wallace to halt and ‘drop his knife’, before opening fire, according to FOX 29. Neither of the officers were equipped with a Taser.
The body camera footage, in addition the emergency calls made by the family, will be released to the public within the next couple of days, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. She will also be releasing a history detailing previous police responses at the home, she said.
Johnson said he did not think the officers should face murder charges and that he hoped the investigation into Wallace’s death would lead to policing reform to prevent similar shootings from occurring in the near future.
He said the city failed the officers by not equipping them with less-lethal options, such as a Taser, to handle the situation.
‘Those particular officers were only given a tool by which to assassinate,’ he said.
Johnson told reporters he has been in touch with District Attorney Larry Krasner and that office is reviewing whether the officers will be charged with any crimes related to the shooting.
Both officers have been taken off street duty, pending the outcome of the DAs investigation.
The Wallace family says they believe a wrongful death occurred and a wrongful death suit will follow.
‘I would like to see justice done for what they did to my son. I wouldn’t wish this on no one,’ Kathy Wallace, Walter’s mother, said.
‘Everybody needs to be accountable for what they did,’ his father, Walter Wallace Sr. added.
Johnson said he did not think the officers should face murder charges and that he hoped the investigation into Wallace’s death would lead to policing reform to prevent similar shootings from occurring in the near future
Wallace walks towards the officers with his arm outstretched. ‘Put the knife down, put the knife down,’ one officer can be heard saying in the clip
Both officers open fire, with at least seven shots heard. Wallace then collapses in the street as screams ring out and his mother runs over hysterically screaming ‘no’
The shooting death of Wallace prompted protests, widespread vandalism and an overnight curfew days before Election Day.
In the days since, more than 90 people have been arrested and about 50 police officers injured in clashes with protesters and vandals, including the 1,000 or so who suddenly swarmed a shopping center Tuesday night, breaking windows and stealing merchandise.
Wallace’s death is just the latest in a string of police killings of black men and women across America in recent months, with another black man shot dead outside a liquor store in San Bernardino just four days earlier.
The deadly shooting unfolded when the two officers responded to a domestic call around 4 p.m. in the predominantly black neighborhood in the city.
Footage captured by a bystander’s smartphone begins with Wallace walking between parked cars outside the front of homes in the residential neighborhood.
A woman, later identified as his mother, is following him trying to get hold of him as shouts ring through the air.
Two officers have their guns pointing at him as he heads in the direction away from them.
‘Yo this is crazy out here,’ the person behind the camera is heard saying of the commotion.
The footage moves off Wallace to the cops with one in the road and another on the pavement a little way up the street.
The cops begin backing up as Wallace re-emerges in frame walking between other cars into the road toward them.
The officers continue to back away from him in the road, with their guns still drawn as Wallace walks toward the officers with his arm outstretched.
The Wallace family says they believe a wrongful death occurred and a wrongful death suit will follow. ‘I would like to see justice done for what they did to my son. I wouldn’t wish this on no one,’ Kathy Wallace (right), Walter’s mother, said.
A man confronts police during riots over the shooting of Walter Wallace on Monday
Hundreds of demonstrators marched in West Philadelphia on Tuesday night
Protesters confront police during a march in Philadelphia on Tuesday
‘Put the knife down, put the knife down,’ one officer can be heard saying in the clip.
Wallace continues walking toward them and both officers open fire, with at least seven shots heard. Wallace then collapses in the street as screams ring out.
His mother runs over towards her son with her arms in the air, hysterically screaming ‘no’. She then appears to throw something at one of the cops.
Several other bystanders also rush over with their arms in the air as one cop approaches Wallace’s body while the other is seen speaking into his radio.
‘My god! Oh my god,’ the man recording the footage says.
‘They just killed him in front of me! You really had to give him that many f***ing shots?’
Screaming is heard and Wallace’s devastated mom is seen trying to hit one of the officers.
The footage pans round to down the road where two other cops are seen running toward the scene.
Police spokesperson Tanya Little said Wallace was hit in the shoulder and chest.
Wallace was then rushed to hospital in a police vehicle where he was pronounced dead soon after.
Wallace’s mother later revealed she had called 911 three times prior the shooting, initially for an ambulance, warning them of her son’s mental state.
Wallace’s wife, Dominique, is pregnant and was scheduled to be induced on Wednesday, the family said.