Twenty-seven-year-old Walter Wallace, Jr. was killed by police after his family called for an ambulance to assist in a mental health emergency. Police arrived and shot Walter a reported 14 times. The attorney for the family, Shaka Johnson stated after Wallace’s mother and wife, who were at the scene at the time of his death, saw police body camera footage, they do not want the officers involved to face murder charges. Instead, the family and their attorney are calling out the city’s failure to provide training and “proper equipment” to handle the situation.
Johnson spoke on behalf of the family stating that the City of Philadelphia created this situation when they gave officers “a tool by which to assassinate” instead of other less lethal weapons such as a Taser and mental health crisis training.
Johnson also pointed out that District Attorney Larry Krasner is responsible for pursuing charges against the officer, not the family of the victim. The family, who has yet to bury their loved one, does plan on filing a wrongful death suit.
“I understand he had a knife… and I think that does not give you carte blanche to execute a man,” Johnson told reporters Thursday (October 29). He added "De-escalation is not just shouting, 'Drop the knife! Drop the knife!' with your weapon out and pointed. That's not de-escalation."
On the night of his death, Wallace’s family reported that he was having a mental health crisis and walking through traffic with a knife when they called for an ambulance to assist them in calming him down.
Two police officers showed up instead and as Johnson describes, their lack of intention or attempt to de-escalate the situation is clearly seen in the body camera footage. Wallace was about a car and half-length away from police when video captures one officer directing the other to, “shoot him.”
Protests erupted around the city as a result of the murder. Police officers involved in the shooting have been taken off active patrol, but remain on desk duty. Philadelphia city officials including District Attorney Krasner have agreed to release the official body camera footage and audio by the end of next week.