Philadelphia police officers shot a black man walking towards them on the street Monday afternoon. Police said the man was carrying a knife.
The footage of the shooting was disseminated on social media. It shows two officers with guns drawn, walking backwards as the man approaches them. The police shoot several times and the man falls to the ground. He died of his injuries in a nearby hospital, the investigator reported.
Officials identified the man as Walter Wallace Jr., who was 27 years old, according to the Associated Press.
Wallace’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., told the newspaper that his son had mental health problems. “Why didn’t you use a taser?” asked the father. “His mother tried to defuse the situation.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that he had been in contact with the young man’s family and that the incident was under investigation.
“My prayers are with Walter Wallace’s family and friends,” said Kenney. “I saw the video of this tragic incident and it has tough questions that need to be answered.”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw confirmed that an investigation would be underway.
“I realize the video of the incident raises a lot of questions,” Outlaw said in a statement. “The residents have my assurance that the investigation will fully answer these questions.”
In a statement, Councilor Jamie Gauthier called for body cameras to be released of the incident.
“We have to acknowledge that things didn’t have to be that way,” said Gauthier. “The use of a service weapon should be the absolute last resort for every officer.” If these officers had used de-escalation techniques and non-lethal weapons instead of making a split second decision to fire their weapons, this young man might still have his life tonight. “
“Had these officials valued this black man’s life – had they treated him as a person with mental health problems rather than a criminal – we could spare our collective indignation at another injustice by the police,” said Gauthier.
Philadelphia, like many other cities across the country, was the scene of major protests this summer after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis. Thousands of peaceful protesters marched through downtown Philadelphia. Some people burned police vehicles, ransacked shops, and crashed into police.
Between 100 and 200 protesters gathered after Wallace’s death on Monday night in a neighborhood where people had demonstrated Floyd’s death, the investigator reported.
Early Tuesday morning, a speeding truck ran over a police officer who was on duty during the protests. Philadelphia’s local Fox TV station reported that the officer was in hospital with a broken leg.