Family of police shooting victim were seeking help for mental health crisis

The two officers each fired at least seven rounds – at least 14 total shots – at Mr Wallace.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched in West Philadelphia over the death of Walter Wallace
Hundreds of demonstrators marched in West Philadelphia over the death of Walter Wallace

The family of a black man killed by Philadelphia police officers in a shooting had called an ambulance for help with a mental health crisis, their lawyer said.

Police said Walter Wallace Junior, 27, was wielding a knife and ignored orders to drop the weapon before officers fired shots on Monday afternoon.

But his parents said police knew their son was in a mental health crisis because they had been to the family’s house three times on Monday.

The Wallace family’s lawyer, Shaka Johnson, said Mr Wallace’s brother had called 911 to request medical assistance and ambulance.

He said: “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?”

Meanwhile, about 500 people had gathered at a West Philadelphia park on Tuesday night and began marching through the neighbourhood.

Police and the National Guard were deployed, with the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management warning residents in eastern Philadelphia to remain indoors.

Officials had anticipated a second night of unrest, after Philadelphia police arrested more than 90 people during protests, sometimes turning into violent confrontations with police.

Protesters confront police during a march in Philadelphia
Protesters confront police during a march in Philadelphia (Matt Slocum/AP)

Police had previously said 30 officers were injured in the Monday night unrest, most of them hit with thrown objects like bricks.

State and local officials have called for transparency and a thorough investigation into Mr Wallace’s death, including the release of body camera footage from the two officers who fired their weapons.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said she was still reviewing when and what information would be released to the public, but said neither had a Taser at the time of the shooting.

Officials said they could not confirm what information had been given to the responding officers, whether they were told about a possible mental illness or how many calls they had received for help at Mr Wallace’s address on Monday.

Chief Police Inspector Frank Vanore confirmed police had received a call before the fatal encounter on Monday about a man screaming and saying that he was armed with a knife.

The two officers each fired at least seven rounds – at least 14 total shots – but Mr Vanore could not say how many times Mr Wallace, a father of nine, was struck.

The victim’s father, Walter Wallace Senior said he is haunted by the way his son was “butchered”.

“It’s in my mind. I can’t even sleep at night. I can’t even close my eyes,” he said.

A neighbour gathers at a memorial outside Walter Wallace Jr.’s home in Philadelphia
A neighbour gathers at a memorial outside Walter Wallace Jr.’s home in Philadelphia. (Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

In video filmed by a bystander and posted on social media, officers yell for Mr Wallace to drop a knife.

His mother and at least one man follow Mr Wallace, trying to get him to listen to officers, as he walks across the street and between cars.

Mr Wallace advanced toward the officers, who then fired several times, said police spokesperson Officer Tanya Little.

Mr Wallace’s mother screams and throws something at an officer after her son is shot and falls to the ground.

Police would not confirm any details about the weapon Mr Wallace was alleged to be holding on Tuesday, saying it is still part of the open investigation.

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