Family don’t want officers who shot black man in Philadelphia charged with murder: lawyer


Body-worn camera footage that was taken as Philadelphia Police answered a call about Walter Wallace Jr. shows him coming out of a house with a knife as relatives yelled at police about his mental health condition, a lawyer for the man’s family said Thursday.The video also shows Wallace being incapacitated after the first shot of 14 two officers fired at him, lawyer Shaka Johnson said, describing footage he showed him and others. Wallace’s family members, before a plan to release him and calls 911 publicly.

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

The family does not want the officers, who have not yet been publicly identified, to be charged with murder, Johnson said, because they were not properly trained and did not have the right equipment to do their jobs.

The video shows the “instant panic” of officers whose training only taught them how to open fire, he said, noting that he saw no viable attempt by the officers to defuse the situation.

“What you won’t see is a man with a knife throwing himself at anyone who could be seen as a reason for the murder,” Johnson said.

People stand near the scene of the shooting. An attorney for the Wallace family says they don’t want the officers who opened fire on murder charges. (Tom Gralish / The Philadelphia Inquirer via The Associated Press)

Police were also berated by Philadelphia leaders as the distressed city lamented the department’s response to a year of extraordinary and sometimes violent civil unrest.

City council, joining leaders of other cities, voted to prevent police from using tear gas, rubber bullets or pepper spray on peaceful protesters after hearing hours of testimony from injured or traumatized people by them, including a group hit by tear gas as they were. corralled near a highway viaduct.

“It was unruly, it was blind and it hurt a lot of people,” said Helen Gym, a council member, who introduced the bill.

The moves follow days of protests, store break-ins and ATM thefts after the death of Wallace, a black man, which led the mayor to lock down the city on Wednesday night with a nighttime curfew.

One person is handcuffed and detained by police Wednesday in Philadelphia, following the city-wide curfew, two days after Wallace’s death. (Tom Gralish / The Philadelphia Inquirer via The Associated Press)

The family had called both medical and police on Monday, but only the latter arrived, lawyer Shaka Johnson said. Less than 30 seconds after the start of the game, Wallace was dead, shot down by a 14-bullet explosion, he said.

Police said the two officers fired after Wallace ignored orders to drop a knife. Wallace’s mother and wife were outside yelling at police about her mental health issues, Johnson said.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw lamented the absence of a behavioral health unit in a department she only joined this year.

She is committed to meeting that need and also told the council that she supports the goal of their bill, which she says is in line with current police policy. Mayor Jim Kenney also supports the ban in principle, but wants to review it before signing it into law, a spokesperson said.

Cities examine the use of force against protesters

The city had a strong record of accommodating protesters in recent years, until the Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the city on May 30, following the death of George Floyd. Chaos and violent clashes ensued, and erupted again this week after Wallace’s death in a predominantly black part of west Philadelphia.

“Walter Wallace Jr.’s unwarranted shooting this week made our city angry and grieving, but also extremely determined to act,” Gym said.

Several other cities in the United States have debated or adopted similar measures to limit the use of chemical sprays and rubber bullets against protesters.

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney William McSwain, who was appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, on Thursday announced charges against a Philadelphia social studies professor and three others for their alleged roles in the two-car fire. police during the May 30 protests.

According to McSwain, 29-year-old teacher Anthony Smith and two other people put “combustible materials” in a cruiser near City Hall that was already on fire. Another man was separately charged with setting fire to a second cruiser. Smith helped organize the Philadelphia Coalition for Racial and Economic Legal Justice, known locally as Philly for REAL Justice.

Smith’s attorney, Paul Hetznecker, noted that the arrest took place five months after the incident and five days before “the most important presidential election of our time.”


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