Philadelphia officials have released body camera footage of the encounter between police officers and Walter Wallace Jr. The encounter in question took place on October 26 when members of the Wallace family sought medical assistance for Wallace Jr., who suffered from biploar disorder. When officers arrived, they say Wallace Jr. "advanced" toward them with a knife. In response, officers fired 14 shots at the 27-year-old in front of his mother. Wallace Jr. was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
“With this release, the world will see we are engaging in an open process, a process that acknowledges the harm our actions have caused," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said. “We will learn from our failings and we will do better.” The newly release body camera footage supports the previously release cell phone recording of the incident. Wallace Jr. can be seen leaving his family's home with an object in his hand. Officers command the Philadelphia resident to drop the object before one person yells, "Shoot him!"
***The video below contains graphic and violent images***
The two officers involved were Sean Matarazzo and Thomas Munz. Both officers have been on the force for less than five years.
“[Officers] didn’t have the training and the tools to do the job effectively and, as such, a man was murdered," attorney Shaka Johnson.
This video marks the first time the Philadelphia Police Department has ever released footage of a police involved shooting. Moving forward, the department seeks to put in place more measures to handle incidents involving mental health.
"Under our new program, when behavioral health crisis calls come into dispatch from police radio, embedded clinical staff will work alongside dispatchers to determine the most appropriate response," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
Wallace Jr.'s family called for medical assistance three times on October 26 and his family believes that he would still be alive if an ambulance had arrived instead of the two officers.
"He can't hurt a damn fly. He had mental issues," his father, Walter Wallace Sr., said.
"It could have been dealt with in a different way."