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11-04-20-count-every-vote-black-lives-matter-protest-walter-wallace-jr
Demonstrators demanding justice for Walter Wallace Jr. gathered at City Hall on Nov. 4 after the body camera footage was released, coinciding with Count Every Vote protesters. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Philadelphia city officials released police officer body camera footage, 911 tapes, and police radio calls on Wednesday night from the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. last week.

The body camera footage shows Wallace Jr. leaving his home at 61st and Locust Streets and walking toward one of the two police officers at the scene while holding a knife, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. As he turned to cross the street toward the second officer, both officers pointed their guns at him and repeatedly yelled, “Put the knife down!” Wallace Jr.'s mother attempted to intervene, but one of the officers told the other to “shoot him.” 

Officers then fired a total of 14 gunshots at Wallace Jr., causing him to fall to the ground. Witnesses rushed into the street to attempt to help Wallace Jr. while his mother is heard in the background screaming, “You killed my son!”

Following the police shooting on Oct. 26, Philadelphians took to the streets for several days in protest of ongoing police violence and racial injustice.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw identified the two officers who fatally shot Wallace Jr. as Sean Matarazzo and Thomas Munz Jr. during a press conference on Wednesday evening with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, District Attorney Larry Krasner, and other city officials. 

No charges have been filed against the officers, though Outlaw said during the conference that an internal investigation by the police department as well as a criminal investigation by the District Attorney's Office are ongoing. 

“[The footage] will elicit anger, rage, distress, evoke more questions — and rightfully so,” Kenney said at the press conference. 

Krasner apologized for a failure by the government to protect Wallace Jr., who was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of his death, the Inquirer reported. 

President of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 John McNesby wrote in a statement on Oct. 26 that the officers were "being vilified for doing their job and keeping the community safe, after being confronted by a man with a knife.”

Krasner said during the Wednesday press conference that Wallace Jr.'s family was allowed to decide which recordings would be released to the public.

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

The series of 911 calls from Wednesday began at 3:42 p.m. on the day of the shooting with a resident from a neighboring apartment asking for police to be sent next door.

“The people next door are fighting,” the neighbor said on the 911 call. “Somebody asked me to call the cops right away.”

Less than a minute later, Wallace Jr.’s sister called 911 as well and said, “They called the cops earlier and the cops is not doing nothing, [Wallace Jr. is] over there hitting my mother and my father.” 

She hung up after the 911 operator replied, “Police are going to help your parents out — stay on the line for medics." The 911 operator requested that an ambulance be sent to Wallace Jr.'s apartment, the Inquirer reported.

Shaka Johnson, an attorney for the Wallace family, said last week that Wallace Jr.'s relatives had asked for an ambulance, not the police, the Inquirer reported. It is unclear whether the non-police request had been made on an unreleased call.

Outlaw additionally announced during the press conference that in response to the shooting, the police department plans to train more 911 dispatchers in crisis intervention team training, and to actively include crisis counselors on 911 calls where their assistance is deemed necessary in the future. 

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