It wasn’t murder: Walter Wallace Jr.’s family says city, not police, to blame
America has watched in horror as Black Lives Matters riots have exploded in Philadelphia after police killed Walter Wallace Jr., 27, a mentally impaired man who confronted them with a knife and was shot and killed because he would not drop his weapon. Wallace’s family, including his mother and wife, is reportedly saying through their attorney that they are not interested in pursuing charges against the police because they were “improperly trained and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job.” Instead, they believe the city failed them.
There was police body camera footage of the confrontation and the family privately reviewed it. Others had previously seen the footage and deemed the shooting justified. Per policy concerning an ongoing investigation, the police are not commenting at this time. The family’s reaction seems to be a result of seeing the video. The footage is about 30 to 40 seconds long.
The family’s attorney is Shaka Johnson. It’s being reported by multiple media outlets that the footage showed the systemic failings of the Philadelphia Police Department, which did not equip its officers with tasers, but rather, “a tool by which to assassinate.” This flies directly in the face of the fact that a taser may not have taken Wallace down in time endangering the lives of the police officers.
Officers first responded to a call reporting a man with a weapon. When the police arrived, they found themselves face-to-face with a man with a knife who was ordered repeatedly to drop his weapon. Wallace did not comply and the police shot him seven times, killing him. There have been over 212 arrests, and 57 officers have been injured, including one who remains hospitalized in the ensuing riots.
The family of Walter Wallace, Jr. says they want every Philadelphia police officer to be equipped with less-than lethal equipment to ensure better responses to mental health incidents, family attorney Shaka Johnson announced.
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) October 29, 2020
The family, does, however, intend to file a wrongful death suit. And it is quite possible that District Attorney Larry Krasner may pursue murder charges against the officers involved of his own accord.
CNN is reporting that Wallace’s family said he had bipolar disorder and was in crisis during the time of the shooting. Relatives had reportedly called authorities multiple times throughout the day to ask for an ambulance, but the police arrived first, Johnson said. When police got there, Wallace was weaving through traffic with a knife.
“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’s mental, he’s mental.'”
“He was behaving like a person who didn’t appreciate the gravity of the circumstances.”
“I understand he had a knife … and I think that does not give you carte blanche to execute a man,” Johnson said. He also noted the officers fired 14 times at Wallace from about a car-and-a-half-length distance away. That is also being contested.
The officers involved in the shooting say that Wallace advanced toward them. The family claims otherwise. Video obtained from witnesses shows at least one office commanding Wallace to “drop the knife.”
Philadelphia police commissioner Danielle Outlaw said authorities will release the body camera footage and 911 tapes involved in the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. “in the near future” to the public.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced Monday after the shooting that it was opening its own investigation. President Trump also announced that the federal government is investigating the shooting.