Two Philadelphia police officers shot and killed a 27-year-old Black man holding a knife on Monday afternoon as his mother watched nearby. Protests in the city have raged in the nights since.
The police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., captured on cell phone video, is just the latest instance of police officers using violence against Black people, who are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement. And like after police violence in Minneapolis; in Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Louisville, Kentucky, frustrated and angry residents have lashed out against the powers that be in the form of protests and violence.
Here’s what we know so far about the shooting and its aftermath.
How the shooting unfolded
Police said the incident started with a 911 call about a man with a knife, CNN affiliate KYW reported. Officers who responded saw a man brandishing a knife and waving it erratically, Philadelphia Police Sgt. Eric Gripp told KYW.
JaHiem Simpson, who took video of the police shooting, told CNN there was some commotion and arguing before police were called.
Simpson said Wallace came out the house with a knife and everybody told him to put the weapon down. He said he saw officers pull their guns as soon as they saw the knife.
Simpson said a person who he later learned was Wallace’s mother told police that Wallace had mental health issues.
The video shows Wallace walking around a parked car into the street, and the two officers backing up as he walks toward them. The police then fire multiple times at Wallace.
Sgt. Gripp told KYW that an officer took Wallace in his police cruiser to Presbyterian Hospital, where he died.
Shaka Johnson, the lawyer for Wallace’s family, said that the family had made at least three calls to authorities that day. He said the initial call was for an ambulance, and Johnson and Wallace’s mother said that police were at the scene earlier in the day.
It’s unclear how many time police responded to the home. Police officials in a Tuesday news conference did not answer questions about whether the officers were there earlier in the day or had prior interactions with Wallace, and they did not elaborate on what officers knew of the situation before they arrived.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said they are looking into what went out by radio and what officers knew at the time they responded, as well as “how any previous contact with Mr. Wallace factored into what happened.”
What we know about Wallace
Wallace suffered from bipolar disorder and was in crisis during the time of the shooting, his family said.
Johnson said that Wallace was suffering and in a doctor’s care, and that he was receiving treatment for his mental health issues.
“It’s emotionally taxing to think about how you can call for assistance and wind up with the people who you called killing you,” he said.
“Law enforcement was called because they wanted an ambulance to come here,” he added. “The police are who arrived first.”
Wallace and his wife, Dominique, were newlyweds, Johnson said. She is expecting to deliver a baby girl “any day now,” Johnson said.
“They were just trying to solidify their family,” he said.
Wallace’s uncle Rodney Everett, 63, said his nephew was a “good-natured person.”
“I’m just disappointed that his life ended like it has. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s right at all. I don’t think they did any justice,” he said.
What we know about the officers
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said in a statement it is investigating the fatal officer-involved shooting.
The officers have not been named. They were not carrying Tasers.
Though the body camera footage has not been released, Mayor Jim Kenney and Outlaw, the police commissioner, acknowledged that the cell phone footage raised questions about the officers’ actions.
Outlaw said she is fully committed to a complete investigation and that she “felt the anger of the community” when she visited the scene after the shooting.
Both officers involved in the shooting are now on desk duty pending an investigation, according to a law enforcement source. The officers have spoken with investigators and are expected to continue to have dialogue as the investigation proceeds, the source said. The DA indicated his office has not interviewed them yet.
Police union President John McNesby defended the officers involved.
“Our police officers are being vilified for doing their job and keeping the community safe, after being confronted by a man with a knife. We support and defend these officers, as they too are traumatized by being involved in a fatal shooting,” he said in a statement.
“We ask the public for its patience as investigators work to gather all the facts of this tragic incident in West Philadelphia. Our thoughts and prayers are with these police officers who had to use lethal force to keep themselves and the community safe.”
How people have responded
Protests on Monday and Tuesday nights have in part turned violent, including with incidents of alleged looting and assault on police. A total of 172 arrests have been made and 53 officers have been injured, police said.
Police said there were 297 looting incidents Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
There is a citywide curfew for Philadelphia in effect from 9 p.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Thursday.
On Monday, 30 officers were injured, mostly from thrown projectiles, police said. One officer was struck by a pickup and was taken to the hospital with a broken leg and other injuries, police said.
Wary of another such night, several businesses in the area closed their stores on Tuesday, and several hundred members of the Pennsylvania National Guard were called to Philadelphia.
On Tuesday night, a large group of protesters marched through the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia. The demonstrators could be heard chanting, with one person yelling, “Whose street?” and the crowd responding, “Our Street!” along with “Say his name!” with the crowd yelling back, “Walter Wallace!”
But the peaceful protest turned violent when the crowd was met by a group of police officers near Philadelphia Police 18th District.
A CNN crew covering Tuesday’s protest witnessed several people in the crowd throw rocks, light bulbs and bricks at the police. One protester with an ax moved toward police and hacked at the front of a police car before leaving the area, the CNN crew said.
Police also reported that a large crowd, which they estimated to be approximately 1,000 people, looted businesses in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia Tuesday night. It is unclear whether they were associated with the protest.
Philadelphia Police said 81 people were arrested on Tuesday amid the unrest.
Wallace’s family has asked that protesters keep their demonstrations peaceful to respect his memory.
Speaking to CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Wallace’s father asked that people honor his son’s memory and his family’s grieving.
“All this violence and looting. I don’t want to leave a bad scar on my son and my family with this looting and chaos stuff,” Walter Wallace Sr. told CNN. “So I want my son’s name and everybody to stop this. Give my son a chance. And the family like we’re decent people.”
“Everybody to have respect for our family, to pray for us. Cut it out. The looting is a mindset and it won’t bring my son back. And it won’t, it will escalate things to get worse instead of better,” he added.
CNN’s Brynn Gingras, Linh Tran, Rob Frehse, Steve Almasy, Mark Morales, Andy Rose, Hollie Silverman and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.