Walter Wallace Shooting Sparks 2nd Night Of Protests In Philadelphia Police shot and killed Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man, in a confrontation Monday. National Guard troops will be deployed, at the county's request, amid protests following the shooting.
NPR logo Fatal Police Shooting In Philadelphia Sparks A 2nd Night Of Protests

Fatal Police Shooting In Philadelphia Sparks A 2nd Night Of Protests

Police officers stand guard in Philadelphia following protests over the police shooting death of Walter Wallace on Tuesday. David Delgado/Reuters hide caption

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David Delgado/Reuters

Police officers stand guard in Philadelphia following protests over the police shooting death of Walter Wallace on Tuesday.

David Delgado/Reuters

Updated at 1:35 a.m. ET Wednesday

Several hundred troops from the Pennsylvania National Guard will be deployed to Philadelphia at the county's request, amid unrest following the shooting of a Black man on Monday.

Walter Wallace, 27, was killed after officers responded to emergency calls Monday afternoon in West Philadelphia. The city's mayor and police commissioner have promised a full investigation into the incident.

Violent clashes between police and demonstrators erupted soon after the shooting, with some 30 police officers reportedly injured in the first night of protests.

On Tuesday night, police urged residents in certain districts to stay inside.

"The Philadelphia Police Department is requesting that all residents in the 12, 16, 18, 19, 24, 25, and 26th Districts remain indoors except when necessary. These areas are experiencing widespread demonstrations that have turned violent with looting," the city's emergency management office tweeted.

The National Guard troops will be mobilized over the next 24 to 48 hours, and will "protect the right to peacefully assemble and protest while keeping people safe," according to a statement from the office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

Police officials have not released the names of the two officers who fired at Wallace, but said the officers have been placed on desk duty pending an investigation.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he watched bystander video, which shows parts of the altercation. In a joint statement with the city's police commissioner, Kenney said the incident was "tragic" and "presents difficult questions that must be answered."

"I recognize that the video of the incident raises many questions," Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw added. While visiting the scene of the shooting, Outlaw said she "heard and felt the anger of the community."

Police say Wallace 'advanced towards officers'

The incident started around 4 p.m. local time, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Shaka Johnson, an attorney for Wallace's family, says the family called 911 to request an ambulance to intervene with a mental health episode Wallace was having, WHYY reporter Nina Feldman told NPR.

Instead, the police showed up — and when they arrived, Wallace was holding a knife.

According to Johnson, Wallace's wife told the officers that the 27-year-old had bipolar disorder and pleaded with them to stand down. Videos of the encounter show a woman, reportedly Wallace's mother, shielding the man as he weaved between cars on the street.

Sgt. Eric Gripp, a police spokesperson, said in a statement that the officers were responding to a report of a man with a knife. They ordered Wallace to drop the weapon, as Wallace "advanced towards officers." Each officer then fired 7 rounds at Wallace as his mother stood nearby, Feldman reported.

Gripp said one of the officers drove Wallace to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died.

Both officers were wearing body cameras at the time, but the department has not released the footage or the recordings of 911 calls from Wallace's family members or other bystanders.

"Why didn't they use a Taser?" the man's father, Walter Wallace Sr., told the Inquirer. "His mother was trying to defuse the situation."

"He has mental issues," he said, adding that his son was on medication. "Why you have to gun him down?"

Neither officer had a Taser.

"Every police officer is not issued a Taser at this time. We requested additional funds so we could continue to outfit our officers with tasers," said Outlaw, the police commissioner, 6ABC reported.

Graphic video goes viral

A graphic video of the shooting has gone viral on social media.

A portion of the video was shared by Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who represents many Black families whose loved ones were killed or seriously injured by police this year, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and Tafara Williams.

The video shows a chaotic scene in the middle of the street as officers, with guns drawn, are seen retreating from Wallace. He approaches with an object in his hand as a crowd looks on.

The video is shaky at times. After about 25 seconds, the video turns away as a series of gunshots ring out. The video swings back toward Wallace to show him limp in the middle of the street.

Police and protesters clash

Hours later, protesters confronted officers who stood in a line with riot shields.

Police said 30 officers were hurt during clashes late Monday and early Tuesday, including one officer whose leg was broken after she was struck by a pickup truck. She was hospitalized; all others were treated for their injuries and released.

More than 30 people were arrested overnight, CBS Philly reported, and several businesses including pharmacies, clothing stores and restaurants were targeted by looters.

An Instagram user posted several videos showing tense scenes between protesters and law enforcement in riot gear.

Officers, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with transparent shields marked "police," shout "Move back!" in unison as they attempt to move the crowd off a residential street.

Demonstrators shout obscenities as they fling objects at the officers, including a rubber trash can, a plastic bucket and a wooden crate. "Y'all killed one of us tonight," one person can be heard yelling at police roughly three minutes into one video.

Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said the police killing of Wallace was another example of "a long history of brutality" against Black Philadelphians.

"This city is overdue for a reckoning with the brazenly violent and abusive behavior in its police department," Shuford said in a statement. "State violence cannot be the answer to societal problems that deserve a fairer, more thoughtful, and more compassionate approach."

John McNesby, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, issued a statement Monday expressing support for the officers involved.

"Our police officers are being vilified for doing their job and keeping the community safe, after being confronted by a man with a knife," McNesby said. "We support and defend these officers, as they too are traumatized by being involved in a fatal shooting."

Presidential campaigns weigh in

Both the White House and the Biden presidential campaign issued starkly different statements on the shooting and its aftermath.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in a one-paragraph statement issued after midnight, neither mentioned Wallace's name nor referred specifically to his shooting death by police. Instead, she sought to blame the unrest following Wallace's death on Democrats.

"The riots in Philadelphia are the most recent consequence of the Liberal Democrats' war against the police," McEnany said. "The Trump Administration stands proudly with law enforcement, and stands ready, upon request, to deploy any and all Federal resources to end these riots."

By contrast, a joint statement from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris devoted the first of its two paragraphs to the circumstances of Wallace's death, tying it to the national reckoning with police violence against people of color.

"Walter Wallace's life, like too many others', was a Black life that mattered," they said, "to his mother, to his family, to his community, to all of us."

The statement went on to decry the looting and violence that followed Wallace's death. "Looting is not a protest, it is a crime," the candidates said. "It draws attention away from the real tragedy of a life cut short."