West Philadelphia

Violence Tears Through W. Philly After Police Shoot, Kill Man; 30 Officers Hurt

The violence happened after police shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr., who was seen on video armed with a knife, according to police, as his mother tried to restrain him Monday

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What to Know

  • Crowds of people took to the streets in West Philadelphia overnight after Philadelphia police officers shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr., a man armed with a knife, Monday.
  • At least 30 officers were hurt responding to the crowds, police said. At least 91 people were arrested.
  • SkyForce10 showed people taking items from stores along West Philadelphia's business corridors before daybreak Tuesday.

Angry crowds took to the streets in West Philadelphia overnight after police shot and killed a man armed with a knife Monday, with some in the crowds throwing rocks and bricks at police and some looting or vandalizing businesses.

At least 30 police officers were hurt, police said. One was hospitalized, a 56-year-old sergeant who was intentionally run over by a pickup truck at 52nd and Walnut streets early Tuesday, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. Her leg was broken, among other injuries, police said.

All the officers, except for the one struck by the truck, had been treated and released as of early Tuesday.

The violence followed protests in response to the death of Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man who police shot and killed Monday in the city’s Cobbs Creek neighborhood.

At least one police car and dumpsters were set on fire as police struggled to contain the crowds. More than a dozen officers, many with batons in hand, formed a line as they ran down 52nd Street chasing protesters away from the main thoroughfare. Some confrontations could be seen in photos shared by the Philadelphia Inquirer. The crowd largely dispersed then.

Police said eight police vehicles and one fire department vehicle were vandalized. At least 91 people were arrested -- most for burglary of commercial properties and 11 for assault on officers, police said.

Tuesday, drivers were urged to avoid the area of 52nd and Chestnut streets. SEPTA also suspended the Route 52 line due to "civil unrest" and detoured the route 21 and 31 bus lines. Route 52 was still suspended Tuesday.

The School District of Philadelphia also closed most of its buildings Tuesday. The only ones that remained open are those that serve as early voting centers, and the district headquarters at Broad and Spring Garden streets.

Looters seized on the night of unrest. Police said numerous stores were broken into, including several Rite Aid stores in West Philadelphia, clothing and shoe stores and at least one restaurant. People could also be seen trying to break into a check cashing store and going in and out of a beauty supply store.

Clothes and merchandise were strewn across the sidewalk and street at 57th and Vine streets, where the glass screens of two ATMs had been bashed in.

The looting, vandalism and violence were initially concentrated in West Philadelphia's commercial corridors. But, unrest and some looting was also reported in other parts of the city, including Center City and North Philly.

The looting picked up again before daybreak as people could be seen going in and out of stores.

At a beauty supply shop that has been looted before, the owner was shaken.

"I think just anybody losing their life is very hard, and it's understandable why people are angry. I'm angry deep inside just because of everything else that happens has a ripple effect," she said, gesturing to the disarray inside the store.

NBC10's Miguel Martinez-Valle reports on reactions to the shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr. after he was shot by Philadelphia police officers Monday.

Outlaw said the city anticipates additional unrest Tuesday and will be deploying additional officers. A looting response team will be present in commercial corridors.

Councilman Derek Green told NBC10 he was in the middle of a community meeting discussing changes they want to see in policing. Then, news of the shooting broke.

"My most important title is father, and as an African American man, to see that on video, at a time when we're having a hearing on this issue of accountability, it really, it causes a lot of pain. There's a lot of pain in this city, and we're going to have to move forward and find ways we can bring people together to heal," Green said.

In a statement, Council President Darrell Clarke called attention to a vote on an upcoming ballot question that would create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission.

"Our community is left with yet another police-involved shooting, a man dead, and the same questions that have arisen across the country: Was there a better way to handle this situation?" Clarke wrote. "When police respond in such situations, we need mental health crisis workers there too, which is why City Council funded that reform in June. It should be implemented expeditiously. We also have the opportunity to create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission, with more authority to investigate citizens' complaints - a question on the November 3rd ballot."

Earlier in the night, protesters gathered outside the 18th District police headquarters on 55th and Pine streets as well as the University of Penn Police headquarters on 40th and Chestnut streets. 

The protests, violence and looting occurred hours after 27-year-old Wallace was shot and killed by two Philadelphia police officers in Cobbs Creek. Investigators said Wallace was armed with a knife when he approached the officers and ignored them when they told him to drop the weapon.

Video from a witness showed Wallace walking toward the officers as his mother tried to restrain him. It’s unclear in the video however whether or not Wallace is holding a weapon. 

A man who investigators say was armed with a knife was shot and killed by police in West Philadelphia. New video obtained by NBC10 shows a woman, who a witness identified as the man's mother, trying to restrain him moments before the officers opened fire.

As Wallace continues to approach the officers, the camera briefly points downward and the sounds of several gunshots are heard as the police open fire. The camera then rises again, showing Wallace motionless on the ground as his mother runs toward him, screaming hysterically.

Wallace was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. 

Wallace's family released a statement saying he was a father who was recently married and that he "didn’t deserve" to die.

The department's officer-involved shooting unit is investigating the shooting and what officers knew at the time they responded to the incident.

Outlaw on Tuesday would not commit to releasing body-worn camera footage or naming the officers, saying certain details would not be released if they would jeopardize the investigation. The department would also not name the officers involved if it was believed there was a threat to their lives.

Outlaw said the officers did not have stun guns because not every officer in the department does. Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said each officer fired about seven rounds, but investigators will still need to determine how many shots struck Wallace.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Police Commissioner Outlaw and District Attorney Larry Krasner all released statements in response to the shooting, saying they would investigate the incident. Outlaw and other leaders plan to take part in community meetings on the use of force, including one set for Tuesday.

During a Tuesday news conference, Kenney said the police department's officer-involved shooting unit is investigating. He plans to meet with the Pathways to Reform, Transformation, and Reconciliation Committee to discuss the shooting.

Mayor Jim Kenney says that video of Philadelphia police officer shooting and killing Walter Wallace Jr. in West Philadelphia presents "difficult questions that must be answered." Kenney said he has spoken to Wallace's family and trusts the investigation into the shooting will be carried out appropriately. He calls the incident "heart wrenching."

Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby also released a statement defending the officers. 

Monday's shooting, protests and unrest occurred amid a year of widespread unrest in Philadelphia and cities across the country in reaction to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. 

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