Family of Man Shot Dead by Philadelphia Police Does Not Want Officers to Face Murder Charges

The family of a man shot dead by Philadelphia police earlier this week said they do not want the officers involved in the shooting to be charged with murder, an attorney for the family said.

The police-involved shooting was captured on video and 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. is seen confronting police while holding a knife. Relatives from the man said he was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of the shooting.

Attorney Shaka Johnson said at a press briefing Thursday after he reviewed the body camera footage from the Oct. 26 incident, he also believes the officers should not face murder charges but hopes the investigation into the man’s death will lead to more police reforms to help prevent similar shootings in the future.

“It was instant panic from those officers,” the attorney said, who is also a former police officer. He also noted that one of the officers involved in the shooting was a “rookie” with less than two years on the force.

Johnson said the reason for the Wallace family to not pursue the officers to face murder charges is that they believe the officers “were improperly trained and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job.”

“The city has also failed those police officers. It failed them tremendously,” Johnson said. “The only remedy the police had in that moment, per their thinking, was their service weapon.”

Police line up to protect the 18th Police Precinct after the city imposed a 9 p.m. curfew in Philadelphia, on Oct. 28, 2020. (Gabriella/AFP via Getty Images)

Though the family does not wish to see the officers face murder charges, Johnson said they would like to see all Philadelphia police officers equipped with tasers. The two officers who fired a total of 14 rounds at Wallace did not have tasers on them.

The decision on whether to prosecute the officers will eventually fall to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who said on Tuesday he had not decided whether charges were warranted.

Johnson said the body camera footage showed Wallace was not lunging at the officers and estimated he was 1-1/2 car lengths away from the police when they fired. He said the footage revealed officers immediately reached for the weapons instead of trying to de-escalate the situation.

The mayor’s office released a statement on Friday to confirm the body camera footage and 911 audio will be made public early next month, one day after the presidential election.

“Philadelphians are experiencing an immense amount of pain, and significant unrest persists throughout the entire city,” the statement reads. “The collective hope of our local government and the Wallace family is that releasing the recordings on Nov. 4 will provide enough time to calm tensions and for the recordings to be released in the most constructive manner possible.”

The death of Wallace Jr. sparked two nights of civil unrest in the Pennsylvanian city. The city saw rioting, looting, and skirmishes between police and protesters. Earlier reports show around 50 officers getting injured and 172 people arrested.

After two nights marked by violence, tensions calmed slightly on Wednesday evening after the city set a citywide curfew after 9 p.m. that will not be implemented again on Thursday, the mayor’s office said.

Police lead several people in handcuffs
Police lead several people in handcuffs to a police van on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia in the early hours of Oct. 27, 2020. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

On Wednesday, police found explosives and other suspicious materials in a van, according to multiple reports. The vehicle was found at Logan Circle in the Center City neighborhood, WPVI reported. Police told the outlet they recovered propane tanks, torches, and what may have been sticks of dynamite.

The father of Wallace Jr. appealed for calm earlier this week, urging agitators who refuse to keep the protests peaceful to stop using violence out of respect for his son and family.

“People have businesses and we all got to eat. … So, why would we hurt the resources that we have in our community instead of binding together?” the father of Wallace Jr. said. “It’s an SOS to help not to hurt and cause no chaos—violence, looting, fires—because I wasn’t brought up like that.”

“I don’t condone no violence—tearing up the city, looting in the stores—and all this chaos,” he said. “I need everybody to have respect for my family and my son to stop this violence and chaos.”

Epoch Times reporter Tom Ozimek and Reuters contributed to this report.