Philadelphia police shot and killed a Black man wielding a knife, sparking overnight protests and violence

The man killed in West Philadelphia was identified as Walter Wallace, Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. On Tuesday, he said video of the shooting “presents difficult questions that must be answered.”

Outrage over the shootings set off protests and looting, leading to dozens of arrests and the officers’ injuries, most the result of thrown objects. One officer was struck by a pickup truck and taken to the hospital with a broken leg and other injuries, police said.

Businesses were looted, and five police vehicles and one fire vehicle were vandalized, police said. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said 91 people were arrested during the unrest, including 11 assaults on police and 76 burglary arrests.

Mayor Kenney and other leaders called for peace as they acknowledged the underlying source of the anger.

“Last night, we saw further evidence of the anguish of black and brown residents of our city who have struggled their entire lives under systemic racism,” he said.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is investigating the shooting jointly with the police unit tasked with investigating officer-involved shootings, the agency said. Authorities said the officers were wearing body cameras. Footage has been reviewed by the mayor and police commissioner but has not been made public because it is part of an ongoing investigation, officials said.

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Like Kenney, Outlaw acknowledged that the video “raises many questions.” She said she is fully committed to a complete investigation and that she “felt the anger of the community” when she visited the scene after the shooting. She said on Tuesday that police anticipate the possibility of more unrest and have requested aid from surrounding counties and the state.

Both officers involved in the shooting are now on desk duty pending an investigation, according to a law enforcement source. The officers have spoken with investigators and are expected to continue to have dialogue as the investigation proceeds, the source said.

The union that represents the officers defended them as “doing their job” and asked the “public for its patience” as investigators gather details of what happened.

What police say led up to the shooting

Walter Wallace, here with his mother, was shot and killed by Philadelphia police officers.
Police said the incident started with a call about a man with a knife, CNN affiliate KYW reported.

“Responding officers witnessed a male on the block. Immediately they noticed he had a knife in his possession and he was brandishing it, and waving it erratically,” Philadelphia police Sgt. Eric Gripp told KYW.

Cell phone video recorded from inside a nearby vehicle captured the final moments of the confrontation. Wallace first can be seen walking around parked cars, crossing into the street from one side across to the other.

A woman — who a family member and law enforcement source said was Wallace’s mother — appears to be trying to intervene to help him as two male police officers in the street point their guns at him, the video shows. As Wallace comes around a parked car into the street, the two officers can be seen backing up as he walks towards them.

Multiple shots ring out as police fire, striking him. Sgt. Gripp told KYW that an officer took Wallace in his police cruiser to Presbyterian Hospital, where he died.

One witness, Maurice Holoway, told KYW that he and others in the neighborhood had pleaded with Wallace to drop the knife and that he wishes the call to police didn’t lead to the man’s death.

“Shoot him in his leg, or not shoot him at all,” Holoway said.

This video still shows a fatal police-involved shooting Monday in West Philadelphia.

JaHiem Simpson, who took the video of the police shooting, told CNN there was some commotion and arguing before police were called.

When police arrived to the man’s house, Simpson said a person who he later was told was Wallace’s mother told police that Wallace had mental health issues.

Simpson said Wallace exited the house about 15 seconds later with a knife. Everybody around him, according to Simpson, was telling him to put the knife down.

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As soon as officers saw the knife, Simpson says he saw them pull out their guns — not tasers.

“All I’m thinking in my head is where the tasers at,” Simpson told CNN.

After the shooting, Simpson said everyone started yelling at the police officers, and more officers then came to the scene.

Simpson is upset at the officers for not even trying to use a taser, but he is most bothered that Wallace was shot right in front of his mom, he told CNN.

“How would you feel?” he asked.

Wallace’s uncle, Rodney Everett, 63, said his nephew was a “good-natured person.”

“I’m just disappointed that his life ended like it has. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s right at all. I don’t think they did any justice,” he said.

Everett said his sister, Wallace’s mother, is “balled up in pain.”

“We all are. But this right here, I know it’s hurting her. I’m just disappointed. This has got to stop.”

30 officers injured, including 1 hit by a truck

A police officer lies on the ground before being loaded into an ambulance on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia in the early hours of Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.

Police have not released any information on the status of the police officers.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President John McNesby defended the officers involved.

“Our police officers are being vilified for doing their job and keeping the community safe, after being confronted by a man with a knife. We support and defend these officers, as they too are traumatized by being involved in a fatal shooting,” he said in a statement.

“We ask the public for its patience as investigators work to gather all the facts of this tragic incident in West Philadelphia. Our thoughts and prayers are with these police officers who had to use lethal force to keep themselves and the community safe.”

Top city leaders vowed to stay in touch with Wallace’s family as the investigation proceeds.

“I … will continue to reach out to hear their concerns first-hand, and to answer their questions to the extent that I am able,” Kenney, the mayor, said. “I look forward to a speedy and transparent resolution for the sake of Mr. Wallace, his family, the officers, and for Philadelphia.”

“Everyone involved will forever be impacted,” said Outlaw, the police commissioner, “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.”

CNN’s Paul P. Murphy, Mirna Alsharif, Kristina Sgueglia, Mark Morales and Meridith Edwards contributed to this report.

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