Protests Erupt in Philadelphia Over Fatal Police Shooting of Man Who Refused to Drop Knife

October 27, 2020 Updated: October 27, 2020

Protests erupted in Philadelphia on Monday night following the fatal police shooting of an armed man.

The 27-year-old man was shot by two police officers during a confrontation just before 4 p.m. in West Philadelphia after he ignored commands to drop his knife, authorities said. He was rushed to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center with shoulder and chest wounds where he was later pronounced dead.

The victim’s family members identified him as Walter Wallace Jr., the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Police officers were responding to reports of a man with a knife. According to authorities, he appeared to be having an altercation with another individual.

When asked to drop his weapon, the man “advanced toward” the officers, who were both wearing body cameras at the time of the incident, a police spokesperson said.

The victim’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., told the news outlet that he appeared to have been shot about 10 times by police. Police spokesperson Tanya Little said the officers fired “several times.”

Witnesses told the Philadelphia Inquirer that although he was armed, he was not charging police.

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People stand near the scene of a police shooting in Philadelphia on Oct. 26, 2020, after police officers fatally shot a man during a confrontation. (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Video footage posted on social media showed Wallace walking toward the officers before they backed away. The moment gunfire can be heard, the video swings out of view, however there appeared to be some distance between them when the shots were fired.

Witnesses told the news outlet Wallace was at least 10 feet away from the officers when they opened fire. Investigators are currently reviewing footage of the incident, according to police spokesperson Sgt. Eric Gripp.

Walter Wallace Sr. told the Philadelphia Inquirer that his son was also a father, was on medication, and struggled with mental health issues.

“Why didn’t they use a Taser?” he asked.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office’s Special Investigation Unit will be part of the probe into the incident.

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People gather in protest in response to the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., early of Oct. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
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Police lead several people in handcuffs to a police van on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia in the early hours of Oct. 27, 2020. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

“The DAO Special Investigation Unit responded to today’s fatal shooting of a civilian by police shortly after it occurred, and has been on scene with other DAO personnel since that time investigating, as we do jointly with the PPD Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Unit, in shootings and fatalities by other means involving police,” he said in a statement.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets over the shooting late Monday into early Tuesday, with interactions between protesters and police turning violent at times. Video footage shared on social media showed many yelling at officers and crying.

Police cars and dumpsters were set on fire as police struggled to contain the crowds. More than a dozen officers, many with batons in hand, formed a line as they ran down 52nd Street chasing protesters away from the main thoroughfare. The crowd then largely dispersed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.