Police who shot Wallace were improperly trained, says family

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The footage from body-worn cameras that was taken as police responded to a call about Walter Wallace Jr showed him emerging from a house with a knife as relatives shout at officers about his mental health condition, a lawyer for the man’s family said on Thursday.

The video also shows Wallace became incapacitated after the first shot of 14 that two officers fired at him, said lawyer Shaka Johnson, describing footage he said police showed him and other members of Wallace’s family before a plan to release it and 911 calls publicly.

“I understand he had a knife, but that does not give you carte blanche to execute a man, quite frankly,” Johnson told reporters at a news conference outside Philadelphia City Hall. “What other than death did you intend when you shoot a man – each officer – seven times apiece?”

The family does not want the officers, who have not yet been publicly identified, to be charged with murder, Johnson said, because they were improperly trained and didn’t have the right equipment to do their job.

The video shows “instant panic” from officers whose training taught them only how to open fire, he said, noting he saw no viable attempt from officers to de-escalate the situation.

A person is handcuffed and detained by police at 55th and Pine Street in Philadelphia, two days after Walter Wallace Jr was killed by police officers. PHOTO: AP

“What you will not see is a man with a knife lunging at anyone that would qualify as a reason to assassinate him,” Johnson said.

The mayor’s office said in a news release late Thursday that the body cam footage and the 911 audio would be released publicly by the end of next week.

Police also faced rebuke from Philadelphia leaders as the anguished city bemoaned the department’s response to a year of extraordinary, and sometimes violent, civil unrest.

The City Council, joining leaders of other cities, voted to block police from using tear gas, rubber bullets or pepper spray on peaceful protesters after hearing hours of testimony from people injured or traumatised by them.

“It was undisciplined, it was indiscriminate and it hurt a lot of people,” said Council Member Helen Gym, who introduced the bill.