Police in Philadelphia said around 30 officers were injured overnight during protests and riots that were sparked by an officer-involved shooting of a man armed with a knife on Monday. Some in the crowds threw rocks and bricks at police, while some looted or vandalized businesses.
Authorities said that at least one officer, a 56-year-old sergeant, was injured in the unrest. The officer was struck by a pickup truck, breaking her leg, officials said, adding that she suffered other injuries.
The riots and protests were triggered by the shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr., a black male who was brandishing a knife.
City officials issued statements about the matter.
“I have watched the video of this tragic incident and it presents difficult questions that must be answered,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said to news outlets, noting that he spoke Monday with Wallace’s family.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said she’s going to carry out a thorough investigating and noted “anger from the community.”
“I have directed the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit to begin its investigation,” Outlaw said in a statement. “I recognize that the video of the incident raises many questions. Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation.”
Police said the incident that led up to Wallace’s death started with a call about a suspect armed with a knife, said Philadelphia Police Sgt. Eric Gripp told KYW-TV.
“Responding officers witnessed a male on the block. Immediately they noticed he had a knife in his possession and he was brandishing it, and waiving it erratically,” he said.
A video that was uploaded online appeared to show the final moments of the incident. The entire encounter was not recorded. Wallace is seen walking around parked vehicles, crossing into the street at one point.
Later, Wallace is seen walking around a parked car, and two officers are seen backing up with their firearms drawn. Wallace is seen walking toward them.
Multiple shots are then heard as officers fire at the suspect, hitting him several times, according to the footage.
Maurice Holoway, a witness, told KYW-TV that he and several others told Wallace to put down the weapon.
“Shoot him in his leg, or not shoot him at all,” Holoway said. Policing experts have long said that shooting a suspect in the legs is unrealistic and extremely difficult.
“Former VP Joe Biden’s suggestion that cops should ‘shoot someone in the leg’ if they’re coming at them is insulting and demonstrates his incompetence and inability to understand the grave dangers cops face as they protect the public and themselves from violent, heartless criminals,” the Detectives’ Endowment Association wrote on Twitter on Oct. 16 in response to a statement made by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden earlier this month.
Joe Gamaldi, national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the concept is “completely ridiculous” and “unrealistic.”
In the meantime, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 President, John McNesby said he is calling on people “wait for the investigation to complete and not to … vilify the police department,” according to KYW-TV.