The family of Walter Wallace Jr., who was fatally shot by two policemen in Philadelphia, says the officers did not want to be charged with the murder. Wallace, 27, was mentally ill when he was shot dead while holding a knife during a clash with police on Monday, October 26. His family revealed that he was suffering from a bipolar disorder and was in a crisis when he was shot.
Wallace’s family looked at the body footage of the incident. Wallace’s family believes the city has failed them, but does not call on the concerned officers to be charged with murder. The Wallace family’s lawyer, Shaka Johnson, spoke at a press conference Thursday (October 29th) and said it was clear that the officers were “improperly trained and not equipped to carry out their work”.
Johnson said the footage showed one of the police officers saying “shoot him” at least 14 times after failing to respond to orders to drop the knife before shooting Wallace. He also shared that the footage showed Wallace that he was in the middle of an “obvious mental health crisis.”
“Those officers panicked,” he added. Johnson also said that he thought the officers should not face charges of murder and hoped that the investigation into Wallace’s death would lead to policing reform to prevent similar fires in the future.
The family’s comments came after watching body footage of the moments that led to Wallace’s death. The images are believed to be about 30-40 seconds long and show Wallace walking out of a house with a knife.
In the background, family members can be heard shouting about his mental state. “When Mr. Wallace leaves the house, at least we don’t hear him say anything in this video. It seems like a person in the cloud or silliness, or he doesn’t appreciate the seriousness of this one particular moment that perfectly coincides with what the family shouts ‘that mental, that mental’. ”
“He acted like he didn’t appreciate the seriousness of the circumstances,” said Johnson. Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a joint statement to CNN that the history of the 911 calls, footage, and police responses to the house will be made public towards the end of next week.
The statement said there were some things that needed to be resolved before the release “in close consultation with Mr. Wallace’s family and legal counsel”.
According to Fox29, it could also be heard that the two officers gave Wallace 20-25 verbal warnings to release his knife and stop it before firing. None of the officers carried grinders. The Wallace family said they believed that a false death had occurred and that a false death trial would follow.
Wallace’s mother, Kathy Wallace, said, “I’d like to see justice done for what she did to my son. Nobody would want that.”