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Philadelphia police shooting of Black man sparks unrest

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                A protester confronts police during a march in Philadelphia. Hundreds of demonstrators marched in West Philadelphia over the death of Walter Wallace, a Black man who was killed by police in Philadelphia on Monday. Police shot and killed the 27-year-old on a Philadelphia street after yelling at him to drop his knife.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A protester confronts police during a march in Philadelphia. Hundreds of demonstrators marched in West Philadelphia over the death of Walter Wallace, a Black man who was killed by police in Philadelphia on Monday. Police shot and killed the 27-year-old on a Philadelphia street after yelling at him to drop his knife.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Sharif Proctor lifts his hands up in front of the police line during a protest in response to the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., Monday, in Philadelphia.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Sharif Proctor lifts his hands up in front of the police line during a protest in response to the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., Monday, in Philadelphia.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Police officers move in formation during a protest in response to the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., Monday, in Philadelphia.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Police officers move in formation during a protest in response to the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., Monday, in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA >> The family of a Black man killed by Philadelphia police officers in a shooting caught on video had called for an ambulance to get him help with a mental health crisis, not for police intervention, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Police said Walter Wallace Jr., 27, was wielding a knife and ignored orders to drop the weapon before officers fired shots Monday afternoon. But his parents said Tuesday night that officers knew their son was in a mental health crisis because they had been to the family’s house three times on Monday.

Cathy Wallace, his mother, said one of the times, “they stood there and laughed at us.”

>> PHOTOS: Fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Black man sparks unrest in West Philadelphia

The Wallace family’s attorney, Shaka Johnson, said the man’s wife, Dominique Wallace, is pregnant and is scheduled to have labor induced Wednesday. Johnson said Wallace had nine children — two briefly spoke at a news conference late Tuesday, along with Walter Wallace’s mother and father.

“When you come to a scene where somebody is in a mental crisis, and the only tool you have to deal with it is a gun … where are the proper tools for the job?” Johnson said, arguing that Philadelphia police officers are not properly trained to handle mental health crises. Johnson said Wallace’s brother had called 911 to request medical assistance and ambulance.

About 500 people had gathered at a West Philadelphia park Tuesday night and began marching through the neighborhood, chanting. There were sporadic reports of arrests in other areas of the city Tuesday night around 9 p.m.

Video showed people streaming into stores and stealing goods as they left on the opposite side of the city from where Wallace was shot. The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management tweeted around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, cautioning residents in eastern Philadelphia to remain indoors.

Philadelphia officials had anticipated a second night of unrest Tuesday, after Philadelphia police arrested more than 90 people during protests and unrest that began Monday and spread into the early morning hours of Tuesday, sometimes turning into violent confrontations with police. Police were stationing extra officers on business corridors in west Philadelphia and elsewhere in preparation.

A Pennsylvania National Guard spokesperson told The Philadelphia Inquirer earlier Tuesday that several hundred guardsmen were expected to arrive in the city within 24 to 48 hours.

Police had previously said 30 officers were injured in the Monday night unrest, most of them hit with thrown objects like bricks. One officer was still hospitalized Tuesday with a broken leg after being purposely run over by a pickup truck, police said.

Throughout the day Tuesday, state and local officials called for transparency and a thorough investigation, including the release of body camera footage from the two officers who fired their weapons.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said at a news conference Tuesday that she was still reviewing when and what information would be released to the public. The officers had not been interviewed as of Tuesday afternoon, she said. Neither had a Taser or similar device at the time of the shooting, Outlaw said, noting the department had previously asked for funding to equip more officers with those devices.

Outlaw said the officers’ names and other identifying information, including their race, would be withheld until the department could be sure releasing the information would not pose a threat to their safety. The officers were taken off street duty during the investigation.

Police officials said they could not confirm what information had been given to the responding officers, whether they were told about a possible mental illness or how many calls they had received for help at Wallace’s address Monday. Chief Police Inspector Frank Vanore confirmed that police had received a call before the fatal encounter Monday about a man screaming and saying that he was armed with a knife.

The two officers each fired at least seven rounds — at least 14 total shots — but Vanore could not say how many times Wallace, 27, was struck.

Wallace’s father, Walter Wallace Sr. said Tuesday night that he is haunted by the way his son was “butchered.”

“It’s in my mind. I can’t even sleep at night. I can’t even close my eyes,” he said.

In video filmed by a bystander and posted on social media, officers yell for Wallace to drop a knife. In the video, Wallace’s mother and at least one man follow Wallace, trying to get him to listen to officers, as he briskly walks across the street and between cars.

Wallace advanced toward the officers, who then fired several times, said police spokesperson Officer Tanya Little. Wallace’s mother screams and throws something at an officer after her son is shot and falls to the ground.

The video does not make it clear whether he was in fact holding a knife, but witnesses said he was. Police would not confirm any details about the weapon Wallace was alleged to be holding Tuesday, saying it is still part of the open investigation.

Wallace was hit in the shoulder and chest, Little said. One officer drove him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, she said.

During Monday’s unrest, police cars and dumpsters were set on fire as officers struggled to contain the crowds. More than a dozen officers, many with batons in hand, formed a line as they ran down 52nd Street, dispersing most of the crowd.

In at least one video posted to social media, an officer can be seen appearing to arrest a young Black woman. A white officer wrestles the woman to the ground, lying with his back against her, and punches her repeatedly.

A request for comment or details about the incident was not returned by police Tuesday. A District Attorney’s office spokesperson urged people with concerns about misconduct or crime during the protest to report those issues to the office’s special investigations unit.

The 52nd Street corridor was also the site of protests against police brutality at the end of May, after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police. Those protests have been the subject of City Council hearings, with protesters describing harsh and unnecessary tactics, including tear gas and projectiles fired by police.

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PHILADELPHIA >> Police shot and killed a 27-year-old Black man on a Philadelphia street after yelling at him to drop his knife, sparking violent protests that police said injured 30 officers and led to dozens of arrests.

The shooting occurred before 4 p.m. Monday as officers responded to a report of a person with a weapon, police spokesperson Tanya Little said.

Officers were called to the Cobbs Creek neighborhood and encountered the man, later identified as Walter Wallace, who was holding a knife, Little said. Officers ordered Wallace to drop the knife, but he instead “advanced towards” them. Both officers then fired “several times,” Little said.

Wallace was hit in the shoulder and chest. One of the officers then put him in a police vehicle and drove him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, Little said.

Hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the shooting late Monday into early Tuesday, with interactions between protesters and police turning violent at times, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Video showed many yelling at officers and crying.

Police cars and dumpsters were set on fire as police struggled to contain the crowds. More than a dozen officers, many with batons in hand, formed a line as they ran down 52nd Street chasing protesters away from the main thoroughfare. The crowd largely dispersed then.

Thirty officers were injured, most of them from being struck by projectiles such as bricks and rocks, according to preliminary information from police. One officer was hospitalized in stable condition with a broken leg and other injuries after she was struck by a pickup truck, police said, while the other injured officers were treated and released.

Video of the fatal confrontation recorded by a bystander and posted on social media shows officers pointing their guns at Wallace as he walks in the street and around a car. He walks toward the officers as they back away from him in the street, guns still aimed at him. They yell at him to put his knife down.

Both then fire several shots and Wallace collapses in the street. A woman runs up to him screaming. Several bystanders then approach him.

It is unclear in the video if he had a knife. Witnesses said he was holding one.

No officers or bystanders were injured in the confrontation, Little said. The names of the officers who fired the shots were not immediately disclosed. Both were wearing body cameras and were taken of street duty pending the investigation.

Some people spoke with city Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, who arrived at the scene a short time after the shooting occurred.

“I heard and felt the anger of the community,” Outlaw said in a statement, adding that the video “raises many questions” and that “those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation.”

Wallace’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., told the Inquirer that his son was also a father, was on medication and struggled with mental health issues.

“Why didn’t they use a taser?” he asked.

The races of the police officers weren’t immediately confirmed. The shooting occurred in a predominantly Black neighborhood in west Philadelphia. The Inquirer reported that dozens of protesters gathered at a nearby park and chanted “Black lives matter.”

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