Walter Wallace Jr.’s mother has said she pleaded with officers not to shoot her son—moments before they opened fire.
Philadelphia Police shot and killed the 27-year-old Black man in the street Monday after yelling at him to drop a knife, sparking protests that have continued for a second night.
In videos posted on social media, shouts of “put the knife down!” are heard as Wallace moves towards two officers who have their weapons drawn.
“Put the guns down!” a person can be heard yelling, shortly before Wallace falls to the ground as multiple gunshots ring out. A wailing woman, thought to be Wallace’s mother, is then seen rushing to his side.
Wallace’s mother Catherine Wallace said she had tried in vain to defuse the situation before her son was killed. “I was telling police to stop. Don’t shoot my son, please don’t shoot my son,” she said, according to WPVI. “They paid me no mind, and shot my son,”
Wallace’s parents said their son was having a mental health crisis at the time.
His father, Walter Wallace Sr., earlier asked The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Why didn’t they use a Taser? His mother was trying to defuse the situation.”
He told WPVI that police had been called to the home, in the 6100 block of Locust Street in West Philadelphia, earlier that day.
“I can’t even sleep at night, every time I close my eyes I get flashbacks of multiple shots,” he added.
Philadelphia Police spokesperson Tanya Little told The Associated Press officers had ordered Wallace to drop the knife he was holding, but he instead “advanced toward” them.
Two officers fired their weapons seven times, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Frank Vanore told ABC News, but it was not clear how many bullets struck Wallace.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said a “threat assessment” must be conducted before the names of the officers involved are released.
“There are many questions that demand answers,” Outlaw said. “Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation,” she added, referring to the police department’s investigation into Wallace’s death, led by its officer-involved shooting team.
Thirty police officers were injured and hospitalized following Monday night’s unrest. Dozens of people were arrested, many of them on charges of looting.
National Guard units were deployed as looting continued on Tuesday night, with footage on local television stations showing people breaking into stores in the Port Richmond neighborhood.
Walter Wallace Sr. has urged people looting to stop. “I don’t want to leave a bad scar on my son and my family, with all this looting and chaos stuff,” he said to CNN.