Mass demonstrations flooded the streets of Philadelphia for the second consecutive night Tuesday as outrage and demands for justice continue to grow in the wake of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who city officers shot at least 10 times earlier this week as he suffered a mental health crisis.
Footage of the incident made public Monday shows Wallace holding a knife and walking toward two officers as they backed up with their guns drawn. Before the officers began opening fire, Wallace's mother is seen in the clip attempting to hold her son back and deescalate the situation.
"As we know from the tragic killings of Daniel Prude, Nicolas Chavez, Quintonio LeGrier, and now Walter Wallace Jr., the criminalization of mental health is dangerous, particularly for Black and Brown people."
—Lynda Garcia, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Shaka Johnson, the Wallace family's attorney, told reporters Tuesday that Walter's brother had called 911 to request medical assistance and an ambulance before the armed police officers arrived.
"When you come to a scene where somebody is in a mental crisis, and the only tool you have to deal with it is a gun... where are the proper tools for the job?" Johnson said.
Lynda Garcia, director of the policing campaign at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement Tuesday that "this killing must be thoroughly investigated, and the officers responsible for Wallace's death must be held accountable for their actions."
"As we know from the tragic killings of Daniel Prude, Nicolas Chavez, Quintonio LeGrier, and now Walter Wallace Jr., the criminalization of mental health is dangerous, particularly for Black and Brown people," said Garcia. "We must redefine public safety and prioritize investing in community-based services and non-police responses to assist people with mental health needs so we can prevent more tragedies like this."
As many as 2,000 people poured into the streets and marched near the site of Wallace's killing in West Philadelphia Tuesday night, with demonstrators chanting, "Who killed Walter Wallace?" and, "No justice, no peace, no racist police!"
Pascale Vallee, a 34-year-old graduate student who took part in Tuesday's demonstration, told the Washington Post that the killing of Wallace was "shameful."
"He needed social supports," Vallee added, "not bullets."
Without a shadow of a doubt there is more than 1,000 protestors, maybe even 2,000 marching down 52nd Street.
Cars honking in support.
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— jason n. peters (@JPeters2100) October 27, 2020
A pickup truck equipped with a huge LED screen & a man on the hood is now directly in front of the police barricade.
— jason n. peters (@JPeters2100) October 28, 2020
Earlier Tuesday, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office is reviewing evidence from the incident and weighing whether to bring charges against the officers who shot and killed Wallace.
"We intend to go where the facts and law lead us and to do so carefully, without rushing to judgment and without bias of any kind," Krasner said in a statement.
The police killing of Wallace quickly garnered national attention and condemnation, with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), issuing a joint statement Tuesday afternoon voicing dismay at the shooting.
"Our hearts are broken for the family of Walter Wallace Jr., and for all those suffering the emotional weight of learning about another Black life in America lost," Biden and Harris said. "We cannot accept that in this country a mental health crisis ends in death."