Body camera footage of Walter Wallace Jr. shooting released; officers identified
PHILADELPHIA - Warning the following video is graphic. The family of Walter Wallace Jr. approved the release of these materials and the duration was limited in accordance with their wishes.
City officials followed through with their promise to release the body camera footage and 911 audio of the events surrounding the deadly police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.
The release of the footage is the first time in the department's history they have released body camera footage of a police-involved shooting incident.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has promised full transparency throughout the investigation. She adds the release of the footage has been carefully considered with the safety of the community and officers involved.
Outlaw identified the two officers who opened fire on Wallace as Officers Sean Matarazzo, 25, and Thomas Munz, 26.
The decision to release the video came after the Wallace family viewed the footage showing the confrontation between two Philadelphia police officers and their 27-year-old son last week. Both the city and the Wallace family later agreed to make the video and 911 audio public.
Wallace was shot and killed by police on the 6100 block of Locust Street in West Philadelphia. Family members have said they called 911 to seek help as he went through a mental health crisis. Police said he ignored commands to drop a knife when they fatally shot him.
In the first 911 call police released at 3:42 p.m. on Oct. 26, a neighbor called for police to an apartment on Locust Street. She told police she was unsure if the people next door were fighting.
In a second 911 call, Wallace’s sister called 911 saying, “they called the cops earlier and the cops are not doing nothing. He’s over there, hitting my mother and my father.”
She told the 911 dispatcher that her brother was on probation. “He got a case for being violent and everything. He has a whole record,” she stated.
In a third call, a resident called 911 saying that “he is assaulting his parents inside.” During a fourth call, a caller reports “my mom needs help” before the call is inaudible.
Police transmissions reveal that the initial call to the scene was a Priority 1 for a "person screaming" and report of a 27-year-old male assaulting an elderly female and male inside.
Another officer is later heard advising the officer responding to use caution and that this is an ongoing domestic issue. The officer responding acknowledged that this message was received.
Body camera footage from the first officer shows the two officers arriving at the scene. As Wallace exits the home you hear officers yelling at him multiple times to “put the knife down now” as he continues to walk towards them.
In the footage, the officers are heard saying “back up, back up” as Wallace’s mom rushes to her son.
The body camera also shows Wallace walking around an SUV when he is shot multiple times by the two officers as his mom screams.
Residents in the neighborhood quickly ran over to Wallace. One resident is heard screaming “he’s mental, he’s mental.”
The second officer’s body footage shows a different angle of the incident. In the second officer’s footage, he is heard what sounds like “shoot him” before both officers fired the fatal shots.
Officers, who according to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw were not equipped with Tasers, responded to a domestic disturbance call, and were met by Wallace who was brandishing a knife.
“We don’t have a behavioral health unit, which is sorely needed,” said Outlaw, when asked about reports that police had been called to the home twice before that day. “There’s clearly a disconnect on our end in terms of knowing what’s out there at the scene.”
Outlaw pledged Wednesday to put reforms in place by late next year that includes more deescalation training for police and better coordination with mental health specialists.
"These officers followed their training and police department policy. It’s completely inappropriate that these officers continue to be vilified for doing their job," Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President John McNesby said in a statement.
The shooting sparked consecutive days of unrest and looting in areas across the city. Several Philadelphia police officers were hurt after peaceful protests spiraled into chaos the evening of Wallace's death. Looting and destruction became more prevalent the following night causing several businesses in Port Richmond to be ransacked. The unrest resulted in overnight curfews Wednesday and Friday.
With tensions high and an unparalleled presidential election on the horizon, the city and the Wallace family agreed last week to push the release of the footage until after Election Day.
"Philadelphians are experiencing an immense amount of pain, and significant unrest persists throughout the entire city. 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," Mayor Jim Kenney said.
In the wake of their son's death, the parents of Walter Wallace Jr. have urged Philadelphians to remain calm.
“I ain’t got time to loot, burn up, and destroy where I live. It's uncalled for, it really, really is and the people doing it ain't helping my family. They are showing disrespect," Wallace Sr. said.
Walter Wallace Jr. was shot and killed by police on Oct. 26
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