PHILADELPHIA – Two Philadelphia police officers shot and killed a man who authorities said was armed with a knife and would not put down the weapon.
Officers responded around 3:50 p.m. Monday to the 6100 block of Locust Street in West Philadelphia for a domestic call.
Once on the scene, the officers were confronted by a man with a knife, Philadelphia Police Department spokesman Sgt. Eric Gripp said. The man has been identified as 27-year-old Walter Wallace.
Gripp said Wallace was not adhering to the officers’ calls to drop the weapon.
Witnesses said Wallace’s mother was trying to calm her son down and deescalate the situation.
Video of the fatal confrontation recorded by a bystander and posted on social media shows two officers pointing their guns at Wallace as he walked in the street and around a car. The man walked toward the officers as they backed away from him in the street, guns still aimed at him.
Police shot and killed a man on a West Philadelphia street Monday afternoon after yelling at him to drop his knife.
“Put the knife down, put the knife down,” one officer can be heard saying.
According to Gripp, the two officers fired their weapons and struck Wallace multiple times after he would not drop the weapon.
Wallace collapsed in the street. A woman ran up to him and began screaming. Distraught family members ran up to his body.
While it’s unclear in the video if the man had a knife, witnesses and police said he was holding one.
At least a dozen evidence markers were found at the scene. Witnesses and neighbors want to know why less-lethal force wasn’t used.
Video shows officers yelling ‘put the knife down’ before fatal shooting of Walter Wallace on October 26, 2020.
“You could have pulled out a taser. You could have shot him in the leg,” said Jada Hilton.
Bystanders confronted Commissioner Danielle Outlaw who rushed to the scene; she stayed calm answering as many questions as she could.
“I’m here to listen. I don’t have answers for what happened today. It just happened. Obviously we got to put everything together,” Outlaw told the residents.
In a statement, the commissioner said the video raises questions but she assured the community that a full investigation is underway.
“I have directed the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit to begin its investigation. I recognize that the video of the incident raises many questions. Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation. While at the scene this evening, I heard and felt the anger of the community. Everyone involved will forever be impacted,” Outlaw said. “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.”
Destruction is being reported in Philadelphia after police shoot and kill a man on Monday afternoon.
By Monday night, a group of residents took to the streets protesting Wallace’s death. Officers could also be seen setting up a perimeter around the 18th district police station.
Police cars and dumpsters were later set on fire as police struggled to contain the crowds. More than a dozen officers, many with batons in hand, formed a line as they ran down 52nd Street chasing protesters away from the main thoroughfare.
The Action Cam also captured video of broken windows and vandalized vehicles along 52nd and Pine streets. The group is also believed to be responsible for broken windows at a number of buildings in University City, including a police station and a Starbucks.
At least 30 police officers were injured in overnight incidents across West Philadelphia.
Officials said one officer was admitted to the hospital with a broken leg and other injuries after being struck by a pick-up truck near 52nd and Walnut Streets around 12:45 a.m.
Police said an additional 29 officers sought treatment at area hospitals for injuries, most from being struck by debris. Those officers have all reportedly been treated and released.
More than 30 people have been detained with several arrests reported as of Tuesday morning.
The names of the officers who fired the shots have not been disclosed. Both were wearing body cameras and were taken off street duty pending the investigation.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President John McNesby expressed his support for the officers involved.
“Our police officers are being vilified this evening 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. We ask the public for its patience as investigators work to gather all the facts of this tragic incident in West Philadelphia today,” McNesby said.
Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement Monday night saying, “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. I spoke tonight with Mr. Wallace’s family, and will continue to reach out to hear their concerns first-hand, and to answer their questions to the extent that I am able.”
District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office is working to review evidence and is asking any witnesses to come forward.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.