Philadelphia officers in Walter Wallace Jr. shooting identified; bodycam video released

Thursday, November 5, 2020
Philadelphia officers in Walter Wallace Jr. shooting identified; bodycam video released
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The City of Philadelphia has released bodycam video and 911 audio of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. on Wednesday.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The City of Philadelphia has released bodycam video and 911 audio of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. on Wednesday.

Officers can be heard saying "put the knife down" at least 11 times before Wallace was shot on the 6100 block of Locust Street on October 26.

The bodycam video shows the officer approaching the home and Wallace appearing on the steps with a knife.

Wallace begins to move off the steps, disregarding multiple commands to drop the weapon. As Wallace enters the middle of the road wielding the knife he is shot multiple times.

At one point in the video, you can hear one of the officers say, "shoot him."

WATCH: Bodycam video released in Walter Wallace Jr. shooting

The officers each fired at least seven rounds - at least 14 total shots - but police could not say how many times Wallace was struck.

Wallace was transported to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where he later died.

"We truly believe that this is an important step in our commitment to transparency," said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw during a press conference before the release of the video.

WATCH: Philadelphia mayor, police commissioner speak about bodycam video in Walter Wallace Jr. shooting

This is the first time in the department's history that bodycam video has been released to the public.

The city says multiple investigations are still underway and announced a series of steps aimed at changing how police respond to incidents involving people with mental health issues.

"We understand that the materials released today will be very painful," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

Outlaw identified the officers involved in the fatal shooting as 25-year-old Sean Matarazzo, who joined the force in 2018, and 26-year-old Thomas Munz, who joined the force in 2017.

Outlaw also pledged to put reforms in place by late next year that includes more deescalation training for police and better coordination with mental health specialists.

"Under the new program, when behavioral health crisis calls come into dispatch from police radio, embedded clinical staff will work alongside dispatchers to determine the most appropriate response," said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

At the request of the Wallace family, District Attorney Larry Krasner says only part of the video was released.

"We have protected that family, we have done here exactly what they asked us to do, to be transparent but also to protect their privacy in a moment of tragedy that is devastating this family," said Krasner.

WATCH: Philly DA Larry Krasner speaks before release of Walter Wallace Jr. shooting bodycam video

Last week, the Wallace family reviewed the bodycam video with Commissioner Outlaw.

"I understand he had a knife, but that does not give you carte blanche to execute a man, quite frankly," lawyer Shaka Johnson told reporters at a news conference outside Philadelphia City Hall. "What other than death did you intend when you shoot a man - each officer - seven times apiece?"

911 Calls Released

Family members say police were called multiple times before the fatal shooting. 911 calls released Wednesday shed some light on what officers may have known prior to arrival.

"Could you send the cops ... the people next door are fighting," said one neighbor at 3:42:18 p.m.

Seconds later, another call was made by a family member.

WATCH: Attorney for Walter Wallace Jr. family holds press conference on police shooting

"I'm the daughter to my mother and father, and my brother is -- they called the cops earlier and the cops is not doing nothing. He's over there hitting my mother and father," said the woman at 3:42:22 p.m.

"Any weapons involved?" asked the 911 operator.

"No, but he got ... he's on probation. He got a case for being violent, he got a whole record," said the woman.

Another call was made at 3:34:20 p.m.

"My mom needs help," said a man on the call.

WATCH: Walter Wallace Jr.'s family does not want Philadelphia officers to face murder charges, attorney says

In a police radio transmission just released, audio reveals a warning for officers to use caution.

"Have the officers use caution responding... this is an ongoing domestic issue going on up there," the dispatcher says.

No Tasers

Johnson said that the Wallace family is not calling for the police officers who fired the fatal shots to be charged with murder.

"And here's why, here's why: they were improperly trained and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job," Johnson said.

No decision has been made if charges will be filed against the officers.

RAW VIDEO: Video shows officers yelling 'put the knife down' before fatal shooting

The officers who shot Wallace did not have a Taser, Outlaw said, noting the department had previously asked for funding to equip more officers with those devices.

When asked what he is doing to secure funding to ensure all officers are equipped and trained on the use of Tasers, Mayor Kenney said he is consulting with City Council for a potential immediate transfer of money for that.

"Of course we need to speed it up and make sure everybody has one and is trained to use it," said Kenney.

Johnson said the city has failed the Wallace family, the community and its police officers.

"The city has failed, not only the Wallace family, not only the other members of that community, who will be scarred and traumatized for the remainder of their days, but the city has also failed those police officers, it failed them tremendously. The only remedy the police had, in that moment per their thinking, was their service weapon. There was no less lethal action available. And that has been our war cry," said Johnson.

Civil Unrest and Looting

Wallace's killing spawned nights of unrest in the city. More than 90 people have been arrested and about 50 police officers injured in clashes with protesters and vandals, including the 1,000 or so who suddenly swarmed a shopping center the night after the shooting, breaking windows and stealing merchandise. That scene erupted on the other side of the city, miles from Wallace's neighborhood, where protests were underway.

RAW VIDEO: Philadelphia officer dragged by vehicle after looters ransack furniture store

On Wednesday night, several hundred supporters of Black Lives Matter were outraged by what they saw after the video was released.

"If it can happen to Walter Wallace Jr., it can happen to any person in this city. That's why we are here demanding justice for Walter Wallace Jr. and demanding an end to police violence," said Krystal Strong of Black Lives Matter.

Krasner urges the public to honor the family's wishes and honor Wallace's memory in a peaceful manner.

"What we need is the public who view this, who feel passionately about this, to feel just as passionately about protecting this family and honoring the memory of Walter Wallace by not tearing up the city. His family is asking you to honor him, not to disgrace his memory by tearing up the city," said Krasner.

WATCH: Looters ransack businesses in Philadelphia Port Richmond section

FOP Reacts

The local Fraternal Order of Police said it welcomed the release of the evidence, and decried Mayor Kenney's use of the term "police violence" to describe it.

"The real violence was perpetrated by a knife-wielding man, who confronted our police officers," President John McNesby said in a statement. "These officers followed their training and police department policy. It's completely inappropriate that these officers continue to be vilified for doing their job,"

An internal affairs investigation within the police department was also underway, Outlaw said. The Fraternal Order of Police said its lawyers were representing the officers.