Walter Wallace Jr.’s family does not want officers charged, lawyer says
The two Philly officers 'were improperly trained,' maintains Shaka Johnson, 'and did not have the proper equipment.'
Philadelphia attorney Shaka Johnson told reporters at a press conference Thursday the family of Walter Wallace Jr. is not seeking murder charges against the officers who shot him.
“Here’s why: They were improperly trained,” Johnson maintained, “and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job.”
The comments came after the Wallace family watched police officers’ body camera footage of Monday’s shooting.
The officers, who remain unidentified, were not carrying tasers. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has said that not all officers do, and says she has previously requested them.
Wallace Jr. was reportedly in a mental health crisis when his mother called 911 for an ambulance. Two police officers responded. After he advanced toward them holding a knife, the officers shot the 27-year-old man at least a dozen times.
Johnson said the policemen’s body camera footage shows Wallace Jr. emerging from a house with a knife as family members shout at the officers, “He’s mental, he’s mental!” He also alleged that Wallace Jr. was “incapacitated” after the first shot.
The officers’ footage is expected to be released to the public by the end of next week, according to a statement from Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner.
At the press conference, Walter Wallace Sr., the father of the slain man, called Kenney “a coward,” noting that he had not visited the family.
Philadelphia Police Union President John McNesby said that Wallace Jr. was “lunging at the officers.” The family and their attorney say that is not accurate.
Johnson disagreed, saying the video’s viewers “will not see a man with a knife lunging at police.”
The shooting has renewed calls for police departments across the nation to change the way they respond to calls by families who have a loved one who is experiencing a mental breakdown.
Johnson said that the city of Philadelphia did not just fail Johnson, but it also failed the officers and the greater community.
“The city has failed not only the Wallace family, not only the other members of that community, who will be scarred and traumatized for the remainder of their days, but the city has also failed those police officers,” he said. “It failed them tremendously.”
“The only remedy the police had, in that moment per their thinking, was their service weapon,” said Johnson. “There was no less lethal action available. And that has been our war cry ever since Tuesday.”