Pennsylvania National Guard to arrive in Philadelphia amid unrest over police shooting

Northeast

FILE – In this June 1, 2020, file photo, Philadelphia police and Pennsylvania National Guard take a knee at the suggestion of Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Melvin Singleton, unseen, outside Philadelphia Police headquarters in Philadelphia, during a march calling for justice over the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

PHILADELPHIA (NewsNation Now) — Pennsylvania National Guard troops are heading to Philadelphia Friday as tensions remain high following the fatal shooting of a 27-year-old Black man by police.

An overnight curfew in the city was lifted Thursday after days of unrest over the death of Walter Wallace Jr.

A police officer walks past an “ENOUGH GO VOTE” sign and graffiti stating “WALTER WALLACE RIP” during a citywide curfew, on October 28, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the city requested assistance from the Pennsylvania National Guard to help with “the current situation and election preparation.”

Kenney said in a statement on Twitter earlier this week that the troops’ role will be to “safeguard property, prevent looting, and provide operational and logistical assistance to (Philadelphia police) and other departments.”

The Pennsylvania National Guard said its mobilizing several hundred members to the city, following Gov. Tom Wolf’s direction.

Gov. Wolf had signed a proclamation of disaster emergency to provide additional support to Philadelphia earlier this week.

The Pennsylvania National Guard’s deployment to Philadelphia comes as the City Council voted to block police from using tear gas, rubber bullets or pepper spray on peaceful protesters. The council’s decision followed hours of testimony from people injured or traumatized by the department’s response to civil unrest.

People hold banners and signs during a demonstration in Philadelphia on October 27, 2020, over the police shooting of 27-year-old Black man Walter Wallace. (Photo by GABRIELLA AUDI/AFP via Getty Images)

Protests have erupted across the city since the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in May. But as the city grapples with Walter’s death, Philadelphia has seen peaceful protests, as well as clashes with police, store break-ins and ATM thefts.

Philadelphia officers fatally shot Wallace on Monday after he ignored orders to drop a knife, according to police. Wallace’s mother said she warned police Monday afternoon that her son was experiencing a mental health crisis. Catherine Wallace said officers knew of the crisis because they had been to the family’s home three times that day.

The family’s attorney, Shaka Johnson, said Wallace’s brother had called 911 to request medical assistance and an ambulance.

On Thursday, Mayor Jim Kenney said body camera footage and 911 calls related to the police shooting will likely be released by the end of next week.

Kenney said the evidence will be made public “after certain matters are resolved with Mr. Wallace’s family and their legal counsel.”

Attorney Johnson said Thursday police showed him and Wallace’s relatives the footage, which police said they planned to do before releasing it publicly.

Johnson said the footage shows Wallace emerging from a house with a knife as relatives shouted at officers about his mental health condition.

According to Johnson, the video also shows Wallace incapacitated after the first shot of more than a dozen that two officers reportedly fired at him.

“I understand he had a knife, but that does not give you carte blanche to execute a man, quite frankly,” Johnson told reporters at a news conference outside Philadelphia City Hall. “What other than death did you intend when you shoot a man — each officer — seven times apiece?”

He said the video doesn’t show Wallace ever lunging at anyone, nor any attempt from police to deescalate the situation.

Johnson said the family doesn’t want the officers to be charged with murder because they weren’t properly trained and didn’t have the right equipment to do their job.

The officers involved in the shooting have not yet been publicly identified. They have been taken off street duty as the investigation remains underway.

The city’s police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, has promised to address the need for a behavioral health unit, which the department currently lacks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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