PHILADELPHIA (NewsNation Now) — Unrest continued Tuesday night as crowds protest the death of Walter Wallace.
According to Philadelphia Police, a crowd of approximately 1,000 were looting businesses in the area of Castor and Aramingo. Meanwhile, other demonstrators were marching and peacefully protesting. About 500 people gathered at a West Philadelphia park Tuesday night and began marching through the neighborhood, chanting and demanding the names of the officers who opened fire.
The Philadelphia Police Department requested that all residents in several areas of the city “remain indoors except when necessary.”
Police shot and killed Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man on a Philadelphia street Monday after yelling at him to drop his knife, sparking violent unrest that police said injured 30 officers and led to dozens of arrests.
Wallace’s parents said Tuesday night that officers knew their son was in a mental health crisis because they had been to the family’s home three times on Monday.
Catherine Wallace, his mother, said one of the times, “they stood there and laughed at us.”
The Wallace family’s attorney, Shaka Johnson, said the man’s wife, Dominique Wallace, is pregnant and is scheduled to have labor induced Wednesday. Two of Wallace’s nine children 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 an ambulance.
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 leaders answered few questions Tuesday about what led to the death of Wallace under more than a dozen rounds fired by two Philadelphia officers who say he refused calls to put down a knife in a confrontation that led to unrest in the predominantly Black neighborhood.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw deferred many questions at a news conference about events before Monday afternoon’s shooting, including what officers knew when they responded to the call, whether or how many times they had interacted with Wallace before, and whether any information had been given to officers about mental health concerns.
Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said he could confirm that police received a call about a man screaming and that he was armed with a knife. The two officers each fired at least seven rounds — at least 14 total shots — but could not say how many times Wallace was struck.
The officers had not been interviewed as of Tuesday afternoon, Outlaw said. Neither officer had a Taser or similar device, with Outlaw saying the department has previously asked for funding to equip more officers with those devices.
Police arrested at least 91 people during the unrest Monday night and Tuesday morning, with three people being cited for failing to disperse and about a dozen being charged with assault of an officer.
Outlaw and Mayor Jim Kenney issued the following statements on the fatal police-involved shooting that occurred in West Philadelphia. According to the statement, “the incident remains under investigation. While the investigation moves forward, the Mayor and Commissioner will schedule a meeting with members of the community near the incident. The City will ensure that any necessary behavioral health supports are available to the community.”
“My prayers are with the family and friends of Walter Wallace. I have watched the video of this tragic incident and it presents difficult questions that must be answered. I spoke tonight with Mr. Wallace’s family, and will continue to reach out to hear their concerns first-hand, and to answer their questions to the extent that I am able. The Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit of PPD will conduct a full investigation. I look forward to a speedy and transparent resolution for the sake of Mr. Wallace, his family, the officers, and for Philadelphia.”MAYOR JIM KENNEY
“I have directed the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit to begin its investigation. I recognize that the video of the incident raises many questions. Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation. While at the scene this evening, I heard and felt the anger of the community. Everyone involved will forever be impacted. I will be leaning on what the investigation gleans to answer the many unanswered questions that exist. I also plan to join the Mayor in meeting with members of the community and members of Mr. Wallace’s family to hear their concerns as soon as it can be scheduled.”COMMISSIONER DANIELLE OUTLAW
Prior to Tuesday afternoon’s press conference with police officials, police spokesperson Tanya Little described the incident, explaining officers were called to the Cobbs Creek neighborhood and encountered the man, later identified as Walter Wallace, who was holding a knife.
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.
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, Little said. The names of the officers who fired the shots were not immediately disclosed. Both were wearing body cameras and were taken off 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.”
Hundreds of protestors 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.
Cops 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.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner issued a statement on Monday, asking residents to peacefully protest in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting.
“In the hours and days following this shooting, we ask Philadelphians to come together to uphold people’s freedom to express themselves peacefully and to reject violence of any kind,” Krasner wrote.
Krasner said the police shooting is under investigation by the Philadelphia district attorney’s special investigations unit.
“We intend to go where the facts and law lead us and to do so carefully, without rushing to judgment and without bias of any kind,” he said.
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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.