City leaders respond to West Philly police shooting

(Photo via Flickr Commons)

By Ayana Jones 

PHILADELPHIA — City and community leaders are reacting after police officers shot and killed a man armed with a knife on Monday in West Philadelphia.

The incident occurred on the 6100 block of Locust Street. Police said they were called to a home on the block for a man with a weapon. When they arrived, they found a man, later identified as 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr.,  holding a knife.

Police said they repeatedly told Wallace to drop the knife but he didn’t listen. The officers opened fire, shooting him multiple times before taking him to Penn Presbyterian Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

A video of the shooting has been dispersed on various multi-media platforms.

The incident led to protests that spilled into the streets and went on throughout the night.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has directed the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit to begin its investigation.

“I recognize that the video of the incident raises many questions,” she said in a statement. “Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation.”

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner office’s Special Investigation Unit is also part of the investigation.

“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,” he said in a statement.

John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said the union would “support and defend” the officers involved in the shooting in a released statement hours after the shooting.

On Tuesday during an interview with Dom Giordano on WPHT 1210 AM, McNesby said officers were left with “no other choice” but to shoot Wallace and they were being “crucified” for doing their jobs. McNesby faulted city leaders, including Mayor Jim Kenney, for failing to back officers, suggesting officials should reach out to the officers involved in the shooting rather than Wallace’s family.

“We’re out there trying to do our job, protect the community,” McNesby said. “And you know what? It’s time for somebody in the city to really start stepping up and backing the officers because it’s not happening right now.”

City officials expressed their disbelief over the shooting.

At-large Councilwoman Kendra Brooks said in a tweet that Philadelphia police shot another Black man “who didn’t need to die.” Brooks called for “justice for all those wrongly killed by police officers” and for a reimagining of public safety.

“Every single encounter between Black people and police officers is fraught with risk, and the only sure way to keep Black people safe from police violence is to limit their interactions with the police,” Brooks said.

Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.