PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia officials have released 911 calls and officers’ body camera footage of the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. in West Philadelphia. Police say Wallace Jr. walked toward the officers while holding a knife and refused to drop it. He was shot 14 times and neither officer was carrying a taser, officials say.
Eyewitness News is reviewing the footage before releasing it.READ MORE: New Study Suggests Dogs Can Sniff Out COVID-19
Police have identified the two officers who shot Wallace Jr. as 25-year-old Sean Matarazzo, who has been with the department since 2018, and 26-year-old Thomas Munz, a department member since 2017.
For the first time in the history of the Philadelphia Police Department, police bodycam video has been released, showing the death of Wallace Jr.
The bodycam footage shows the officers arriving on the 6100 block of Locust Street in West Philly when Wallace Jr. leaves a home. Officers can then immediately be heard yelling “put the knife down now.”
Meanwhile, people in the background can be heard yelling what sounds to be “he’s mental” as officers continue to tell Wallace Jr. to put the knife down.
Wallace Jr.’s mother rushed to her son, who she says was in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Video shows Wallace Jr. continue to walk around the area before both officers open fire, killing him. In the video, one of the officers can be heard saying “shoot him” before both officers opened fire.
Following the shooting, a woman is seen telling officers, “I just told y’all he mental.”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner held a press conference ahead of the footage release Wednesday evening to address the fatal shooting.
Eyewitness News spoke with the Police Advisory Commission Wednesday. They believe releasing the bodycam video is necessary.
“When an officer-involved shooting occurs, we are notified immediately and we have the ability to go out to the scene while it’s unfolding,” said Anthony Erace, with the Police Advisory Commission.
Commission members are concerned about the release of the bodycam video leading to more unrest. But they say the transparency is absolutely necessary.
“I think it’s very important. I think this is a great first step that the PPD has taken with releasing the video. I think it might be the first time or one of the first times that it’s happened,” Erace said. “While I am concerned about what might happen in our cities and neighborhoods, I think it’s more important that transparency be actively pursued.”
The Wallace family was given the opportunity to review the police body camera footage last Thursday.
Wallace family attorney Shaka Johnson said the 27-year-old was executed by two Philadelphia police officers while he was suffering a mental health crisis. The Wallace family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
“The man was suffering. He was on doctor’s care. He was on a regiment of lithium, etc., and the police were here earlier that day,” Johnson said.READ MORE: Here Is Where The Pennsylvania Primary Race For The Senate Seat Stands
Johnson says police were called at least three times to the home. The final 911 call was made by Wallace Jr.’s brother, asking for medics.
“The ambulance never made it,” Johnson said.
According to 911 calls released, the first emergency call was made on Monday, Oct. 26 at 3:42 p.m.
The caller can be heard saying “there are people next door fighting.”
At the same time, another call was made where a woman is heard asking for police to come, saying, “My brother, they called the cops earlier and the cops is not doing nothing. He is over there hitting on my mother and father.”
The 911 operator asks Wallace Jr.’s sister if there are any weapons involved, to which she replies, “No, but he’s on probation and everything. He got a case for being violent and everything. He got a whole record.”
The family is not calling for charges on the discharging officers, but they are calling for the city to invest in less lethal weapons for Philadelphia police officers.
“I would like to see justice done for what they did to my son. I wouldn’t wish this on no one,” Kathy Wallace, Walter’s mother, said.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said the bodycam footage was released “in the spirit of transparency to show we’re not hiding anything.
Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby released a statement defending the officers involved in the shooting.
“The FOP has been calling for the release of this video and 911 calls since last Tuesday. Eight days later, city officials held an hour long press conference casting blame on these officers for this incident in which they were forced to make a split-second decision. This is baseless and not supported by facts.
These officers followed their training and police department policy. It’s completely inappropriate that these officers continue to be vilified for doing their job.
Mayor Kenney has called this “police violence,” however the real violence was perpetrated by a knife-wielding man, who confronted our police officers.
Our officers and the citizens of Philadelphia deserve better than a false narrative being expressed by the Mayor, police commissioner and district attorney.
The FOP continues to support our police officers as city officials turn their back on the hardworking men and women of the police department.”
Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke released a statement Wednesday, reading, in part, “Councilmembers and other elected officials hear the calls for meaningful police oversight, police reform, and expanded mental health supports. We urge our residents to channel the frustrations and anxiety they are surely feeling today into becoming part of the reform process that City Councilmembers, advocates, and state elected officials have already begun.”
Wallace’s death sparked outrage and nights of looting and protests throughout Philadelphia.
CBS3’s Natasha Brown contributed to this report.
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