Philadelphia to release police body camera video in Wallace death Wednesday

Philadelphia officials said Friday they will release police body camera footage and 911 audio in the fatal shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. on Wednesday.

The city’s mayor, district attorney and police commissioner said in a statement that the decision to release the materials by the end of business that day was made in agreement with the Wallace family.

The fatal shooting Monday sparked protests and calls for changes to police training. Police have said that Wallace, 27, had a knife, was ordered to drop the weapon but continued to advance on the officers.

Wallace’s family has said that Wallace had mental illness and they called 911 hoping for medical treatment, but police arrived first.

Each of the two officers on the scene, who have not been publicly identified, fired seven times, police have said.

The shooting is under investigation by a police unit and the district attorney’s office.

Wallace’s family said they saw the body-worn camera video Thursday. The family’s attorney, Shaka Johnson, said the family is not calling for the officers to be charged with murder, because they lacked proper training and equipment.

Johnson has criticized police training, saying the officers were ill-equipped to handle the situation. The officers who responded did not have Taser stun devices. “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” Johnson said.

“They were improperly trained and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job. They didn’t have it,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that the police video shows the officers about a car length and a half from Wallace and that an officer can be heard saying, “shoot him.”

Johnson said that the video doesn’t include audio from Wallace, who he said “appeared to be a person in sort of a cloud or a stupor or just not appreciating the gravity of that particular moment.” Wallace’s wife told police he had mental issues, and his mother told officers not to shoot, and police gave commands in the video, he said.

“But what you did not see, and what you will not see — and mark my words on this — you will not see a man with a knife lunging at anyone,” Johnson said.

The encounter was partly captured on cellphone video.

Johnson said Thursday the city has been transparent with the family so far.

“Philadelphians are experiencing an immense amount of pain, and significant unrest persists throughout the entire city,” the statement from Philadelphia’s mayor, the district attorney, the police commissioner and the Wallace family said.

“The collective hope of our local government and the Wallace family is that releasing the recordings on November 4 will provide enough time to calm tensions and for the recordings to be released in the most constructive manner possible,” the statement said.