Police Gun Down Man with Knife Early Monday in Philly in Front of Family

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By Layla Mustafa and Eric J. Trochez

WEST PHILADELPHIA- In the near-dawn hours here Monday, 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. was reportedly gunned down by police officers in the neighborhood of Cobbs Creek in West Philadelphia.

Police officers were called to the scene in response to a domestic incident, and they reportedly encountered a man with a knife. Multiple bystanders witnessed Wallace carrying a knife during the officer involved shooting.

However, Wallace was said not to have charged police and was further than arms’ length from them when they fired numerous shots.

Footage posted to social media and YouTube show the shooting taking place. The video depicts officers pointing their guns at a man as he walked in the street and around a car. In the background Wallace’s mother can be heard begging officers not to shoot him.

From the video about 10 shots can be heard…followed by Wallace’s mother’s screams as she ran toward her fallen son.

A screaming woman runs to the body and throws something at the officers. Nearby bystanders rushed toward the body and expressed their discontent with the officer’s actions. “Y’all didn’t have to give him that many f**king shots!” yells the person recording.

Wallace was transported to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died shortly thereafter.

The names of the officers who fired the shots have not yet been disclosed. Both, however, were wearing body cameras and were taken off duty pending the new investigation.

In a statement made by Mayor Jim Kenney he said: “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.”

Emotions in West Philadelphia have begun to run high amidst the outrage at this new police shooting. A crowd of protestors gathered, many of whom witnessed the shooting. In response, officers have arrived at the scene of the protest in full riot gear.

Wallace Sr., the victim’s father, noted that his son struggled with mental health issues and was additionally on medication. He and multiple bystanders questioned officers on video, asking, “Why didn’t they use a Taser? His mother was trying to diffuse the situation.”

District Attorney Larry Krasner also followed the incident up with a statement of his own:

“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office takes its obligation to try to be fair and to seek even handed justice seriously,” said Krasner, ensuring that the DAO Special Investigation Unit working jointly with the PPD Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Unit will investigate the matter.

“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,” added DA Krasner, urging citizens to provide any witness testimony or evidence  about the incident, and report any official misconduct when they see it.

DA Krasner ended his statement with this: “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.”


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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11 thoughts on “Police Gun Down Man with Knife Early Monday in Philly in Front of Family”

    1. Tia Will

      No, Keith, it really is not that simple. As I read this account, I was reminded of this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G06mi2hVg8

      in which a police officer encountering a man with a knife talks him down, disarms him, and offers solace. There are many, many ways to de-escalate situations without harm to anyone. Guns should always be the last, not the first resort.

      I am reminded of another situation that happened to me personally. I was a 4th-year medical student on an ER shift. A large male patient I was attempting to interview wrapped his hands around my neck. Instead of panicking, my resident walked over, put his hand on the man’s shoulder, and said “Come on buddy, let her go. Can’t you see you are scaring her?” The man looked sheepish, let go, and mumbled “Sorry” to me. All dangerous situations do not have to end with someone dead.

        1. Tia Will

          I already said his hands were wrapped around my neck. I think even you might be able to see that is a life-threatening situation.

          How about the clip I posted. That was a knife threat. Or how about this one where teens fight off knife-wielding assailant with only their backpacks?

          https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5472907/Teenagers-defend-classmates-BACKPACKS-knifeman.html

          The point here is, even life-threatening situations can be handled without shooting.

  1. John Hobbs

    “So I didn’t come off as superior.”

    US cops lead with their ego. They go ape when someone questions their authority, especially if the questioner is black. Most are not qualified to deal with a frightened child much less a mentally ill person.

  2. Eric Gelber

    Police officers were called to the scene in response to a domestic incident, and they reportedly encountered a man with a knife.

    This incident illustrates why all police officers need extensive crisis intervention training. Philadelphia has had mobile crisis intervention teams similar to Oregon’s CAHOOTS for many years. But this was a call about a domestic incident that, apparently, was revealed to involve an individual experiencing a mental heath crisis only after the police arrived. Most law enforcement agencies provide some form of crisis intervention training to their personnel. But the skills involved in utilizing non-lethal interventions are very specialized and require intensive training. Crisis intervention teams are an important adjunct to police intervention, but cannot be relied on as the sole approach.

    1. David Greenwald

      This is correct Eric.  Unfortunately a lot of people stop their evaluation of these incidents when they see knife, gun or weapon and do not consider whether the individual was even capable of complying with orders from law enforcement.

  3. Bill Marshall

    My point was the patient in your case didn’t have a weapon as in the case of Walter Wallace Jr. chasing cops with a knife.

    Proof positive the man had MH issues… any sane person knows you don’t bring a knife to a potential gunfight… (or a sword… see 1st Indiana Jones movie).

    Everyone knows if you have to shoot i self defense, you don’t shoot to wound someone (in self defense), you shoot to stop the attacker… if the officers had good aim, one shot would have stopped the attack… and, even if the weakened attacker managed to keep coming, a second shot, well aimed, would have rendered the attacker unable to continue.

    I’d be interested in the coroner’s report results…  like how many bullets entered the body after the “kill shot”… Keith… appears at least 10 shots were fired… maybe 5 per officer?  Self-defense?  I think not.  More like, “how dead can we get this guy?”

    In WWII, medics were issued “45’s”… the brass figured that medics would be lucky to hit a human target… but if they did, no matter what part of the body they hit, the enemy would be knocked down, disabled… rendered ineffective… few other soldiers (except officers) were issued 45’s…

    Had the Philly cops been issued tasers (they certainly were in range), even if the guy died of a taser, it wouldn’t be the issue it will likely become.

    Besides tasers, perhaps they should also have sawed-off shot guns with bird-shot cartridges… might not be lethal, but it wil most certainly stop someone…

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