Bodycam footage of Philadelphia police shooting to be released

Officials to release police footage of the shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. after three nights of unrest in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s police commissioner is defending herself and her officers against what the city’s former mayor called a “failure of leadership” over the department’s lack of Tasers for personnel, a topic that has received attention in the wake of the shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr.

Philly police officers were not equipped with Tasers when they responded to the Monday afternoon 911 call involving 27-year-old Wallace, who was shot and killed after he allegedly ignored orders to drop a knife and charged at police, officials announced earlier this week. The lack of Tasers for personnel has drawn criticism from some, reportedly including the city’s former mayor John Street.

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

“This is a failure of leadership,” Street said, according to CBS 3 Philly. “We take nine months to train someone to be a member of the Philadelphia Police Department. We spend tens of thousands of dollars. It is inexcusable for those police officers to be there without the proper equipment. The only person that you can hold responsible is the leadership of the city. That situation should've never have happened.”

But Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told the news station there has been a line item in the city’s annual budget for $900,000 to go toward Tasers, according to a late Wednesday report. The funding “has been approved,” she said.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, center, and Mayor Jim Kenney, fourth from eft, meet with people, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

“No one has said, ‘No, we’re not going to give you this money,’” Outlaw continued, according to CBS 3. “Did there need to be some rethinking in how we deploy the Tasers or the amount of Tasers that we were purchasing? Maybe, but to say it’s a failure of leadership I think not only is it unfair, but I think it’s really easy to sit back and Monday morning quarterback.”

Wallace was fatally shot shortly before 4 p.m. Monday in the city’s Cobbs Creek neighborhood. He was struck in the shoulder and chest and taken to the hospital in a police car but could not be saved, officials previously said.

His family’s lawyer said Tuesday they had called for an ambulance to get him help with a mental health crisis, not for police intervention. Wallace’s parents said officers knew their son was in a mental health crisis because they had been to the family's house three times Monday.

Protesters confront police during a march Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

His death prompted widespread protests that devolved into unrest, including violence and looting. 

Officials previously said officers fired 14 shots during their Monday evening confrontation with Wallace, who was armed and charged at police despite their orders that he drop the knife. The shooting was caught on video.

Outlaw said the officers have been pulled from street duty, but the department would not be releasing their names or any information, such as their race or ethnicity, until the department was sure it would not jeopardize their safety.

Outlaw said during a Tuesday press conference that the department is working to outfit all officers with Tasers but could not immediately say how many officers do or do not have them.  

“Every police officer is not issued a Taser at this time. We went back during this last budget cycle. We requested additional funding so that we could continue to outfit our officers with Tasers," she said.

“It was made clear to me upon my arrival here that everyone needs to have a Taser or an ECW, an electronic control weapon, assigned to them,” she said, noting that “many other officers” in the department are not deployed with such kinds of weapons.

Outlaw said Wednesday the city plans to release the 911 call and body camera footage in connection with Wallace’s shooting “in the near future.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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