PHILADELPHIA, Pa .– After days of protests and police demands for accountability, authorities in Philadelphia on Wednesday released body camera footage of the moment Walter Wallace Jr. was killed by police late last month. .
Police said Wallace, a 27-year-old black man, ignored orders from two white officers to drop a knife before opening fire on him during a home visit. Wallace Jr.’s parents urged agents–identified on Wednesday as Sean Matarazzo, 25, and Thomas Munz, 26–were fully aware that their son was having a mental health crisis as they had already visited the house three times that day. The last – and fatal – call the family of the 27-year-old made to authorities was to bring him an ambulance so he could get professional help.
The shooting sparked massive protests in West Philadelphia for at least two nights. After the body camera footage was released on Wednesday, hundreds of protesters again took to the streets to protest the 27-year-old’s death and the strained presidential count in Pennsylvania.
“The same systems that suppress black voters killed Walter Wallace,” one speaker told the crowd, after several others were heard chanting, “Say his name. Walter Wallace. “
At a press conference Wednesday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the new body camera footage “could be intense and traumatic for many people to watch” and called for calm in the city. District Attorney Larry Krasner also said officials will not release the full footage as per a request made by Wallace Jr.’s family.
“With this publication, the world will see that we are entering into an open process – a process that recognizes the harm our actions have caused,” Kenney said, noting that investigations “take time.” “We will learn from our failures and we will do better.”
The shocking body camera footage does not show Wallace Jr. rushing at the armed cops – despite initial claims – but walking alongside as the two cops yell “put the knife down now”. The footage shows them shooting Wallace Jr. on several occasions after he rounded a car, and a group of passersby rushing towards the 27-year-old lying in the middle of the street, shouting “he’s crazy!” and “you killed my baby!”
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw also noted on Wednesday that this was the first time in the history of the department that body camera footage of a shooting involving an officer had been released. It was “an important step in our commitment to transparency,” she added.
Krasner previously said his decision whether or not to lay charges against the officers depended on the footage and what the officers – who each fired at least seven shots – knew about Wallace Jr.’s mental health and criminal history. when they answered her mother’s call.
Wallace Jr.’s family said they were opposing criminal charges for the cops involved because “they hadn’t been properly trained and didn’t have the proper equipment to do their jobs,” Shaka said. Johnson, their lawyer, last week.
“As a member of the government I apologize for this,” Krasner said on Wednesday, choking on insisting the 27-year-old mother failed by the government when she tried to help her son with his mental illness.
The release of the footage came just an hour after the Trump campaign descended on the town of Brotherly Love to announce two lawsuits aimed at halting the vote count in crucial swing state.
The National Guard lined City Hall ahead of Wallace Jr.’s press conference and a protest against the election. When the Trump campaign announced Wednesday afternoon that it would hold a press conference a few blocks from City Hall, calls for additional protests only intensified. Ultimately, however, the Trump campaign moved their conference, though protests are underway in downtown Philly.
Tom Digiulio, a teacher at a West Philadelphia public school, told the Daily Beast he participated in protests after the October shooting and went to city hall to protest the any attempt to interfere with the vote count.
“There is a side that tries to free democracy and there is another side that tries to deprive voters of their rights,” said Digiulio.
At around 5:30 p.m., when the body camera images were finally released, at least 1,000 people demonstrated in front of the town hall, combining the two duels come together to demand justice and equality.
“This is explicitly about the election, but Walter Wallace’s situation is totally insignificant,” said Eric Jenkins, a Grays Ferry resident and organizer with Socialist Alternative, who co-hosted the protest outside the hotel. city.
In two 911 calls made on Oct. 26 by Wallace Jr.’s sister and a neighbor, published on Wednesday, both pointed out that he was in distress. The neighbor referred to a “fight” at Wallace Jr. and said that “someone asked me to call the cops right away”.
“I’m the daughter of my mother, father and brother, they called the cops earlier and the cops are doing nothing,” the sister was heard telling dispatchers a few minutes later. “He’s here hitting my mom and dad.
The sister, who was not at home, then said her brother was unarmed but was on probation. She requested an ambulance because her father was “about to pass out” and “her mother’s blood pressure is at its peak.”
“And they’re there screaming, so I don’t know what’s going on there,” she adds.
Body camera footage then shows Matarazzo and Munz – both from the 18th arrondissement – arriving at the house. They can almost immediately be heard screaming “put the knife down now” as people in the background also shout what sounds like “he’s crazy” and ask Wallace Jr. to drop the gun.
“Put down the knife now!” Put down the knife now! the officer shouts at the body camera, his gun in his hand. The footage shows Wallace Jr. walking along the sidewalk and then down the street as several people yell at him and gather near the street. A woman also appears to be holding Wallace Jr. by the shoulder.
Then, as the 27-year-old was driving around in a car, the two officers opened fire – though he never seemed to run towards them. The woman holding Wallace Jr.’s shoulder immediately runs down the street, screaming, crying and throwing something at the officers as they call for reinforcements while Wallace Jr. stands in the middle of the road.
“You killed my baby,” hears the woman screaming in front of a group of crowds around the body. One woman pulls on her arm while another, dressed in a BLM shirt, asks people to “back off”.
Video captured by an eyewitness and posted to social media also shows police firing multiple shots at Wallace Jr., as his mother pleaded with cops not to shoot. Wallace’s wife told police he had mental health issues, Johnson, the family’s lawyer, said.
“I just told you he’s crazy“
In body camera footage, a woman can be seen telling an officer, “I just told you he’s crazy.” More than a dozen people gathered on the street as the two cops tried to contain the situation and waited for reinforcements, prompting an officer at one point to suggest getting into a police car and ” sweep them away ”.
After the shooting, Wallace Jr. was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was said to be the father of seven children and his wife was expecting another child.
Johnson said Wallace Jr. “seemed like a person in some sort of cloud or stupor or just didn’t appreciate the gravity of this particular moment.”
“But what you haven’t seen, and what you won’t see – and notice my words on that – you won’t see a man with a knife pouncing on anyone,” he added.
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