Philadelphia Police’s Fatal Shooting Of Armed Black Man Suffering From Mental Illness Sparks Unrest

Philadelphia police shot and killed a 27-year-old Black man car­ry­ing a knife Monday after­noon, prompt­ing angry protests over the killing that turned vio­lent overnight. Police respond­ed to a call that a man, lat­er iden­ti­fied as Walter Wallace Jr., was act­ing errat­i­cal­ly and car­ry­ing a knife. When the offi­cers arrived, Wallace, whose father told the Philadelphia Inquirer was on med­ica­tion for men­tal health issues, was stand­ing on his front porch with the knife as his fam­i­ly tried to defuse the situation.

When police arrived, one eye­wit­ness said they imme­di­ate­ly drew their weapons, and the inci­dent esca­lat­ed from there“Wallace’s moth­er chased after him as he walked down the steps of his porch, still hold­ing the knife,” eye­wit­ness Maurice Holloway told the Inquirer. “His moth­er tried to shield Wallace and tell police he was her son.” “[E]veryone is say­ing, ‘Don’t shoot him, he’s gonna put it down, we know him,’” Holloway said. The video of the inci­dent shows Wallace’s moth­er trail­ing him as he cir­cled around parked cars and back towards the mid­dle of the res­i­den­tial street where the two offi­cers had drawn their weapons. Wallace walked in the direc­tion of the offi­cers as they retreat­ed, when police fired at him. The Philadelphia police depart­ment said in a state­ment that the offi­cers had told Wallace to drop the knife and that he was advanc­ing on the offi­cers. The record­ing tak­en by a neigh­bor dips down at the ground just at the moment of the shoot­ing, but appears to show Wallace still a dis­tance from the offi­cers as about a dozen shots were fired.

Why didn’t they use a Taser?” Wallace’s father said after the shoot­ing. “His moth­er was try­ing to defuse the sit­u­a­tion.” The city’s may­or said a video tak­en at the scene of the shoot­ing of Wallace Jr. raised “dif­fi­cult ques­tions that must be answered.” The city’s police com­mis­sion­er said there would be an inves­ti­ga­tion into the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the shooting.
On Monday evening, as many as three hun­dred pro­test­ers gath­ered near the site of the shoot­ing amidst a heavy police pres­ence. Police said 30 cops were injured dur­ing clash­es with pro­test­ers, most of which were from pro­jec­tiles thrown by pro­test­ers. Authorities say a police vehi­cle was destroyed, loot­ing took place, and more than 30 arrests were made overnight.