The black man shot and killed by Philadelphia police on Monday, Walter Wallace Jr., had a long criminal record that included violent offenses, local media have reported. Wallace’s death has led to riots in the city.
The 27-year-old was fatally shot by officers after he reportedly ignored commands to drop a knife that he was holding. The incident sparked large protests in Philadelphia, which quickly descended into rioting and looting. Sympathetic media reports have portrayed Wallace as a husband, father and aspiring musician who struggled to overcome mental health issues, but court documents obtained by news outlets reveal he had numerous run-ins with the law.
In 2017, Wallace pled guilty to robbery and assault after kicking down the door of a woman and putting a gun to her head, Fox News reported. Four years earlier, he pled guilty to assault and resisting arrest after punching a police officer in the face.
PA court records show that Wallace has been arrested no less than *ten times* since 2013 – including five felony convictions ranging from Burglary to Aggravated Assault & Terroristic Threatening. pic.twitter.com/9wLiuL9jMo
— Yim Yames (@yamesyim) October 27, 2020
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, police had responded to dozens of calls in recent months that involved disturbances at Wallace’s home, and they had even visited the address twice on Monday before returning again for the third time, which led to the fatal incident. His family claims that the third call to emergency services that day was for an ambulance to help Wallace with a psychotic episode, but that the police arrived instead.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said on Tuesday that it was not clear if the two officers who shot Wallace were aware of his condition or criminal background.
A relative previously told Fox News that Wallace had struggled with mental health issues and was bipolar. He was at one stage ordered by a judge to undergo psychiatric evaluation treatment, the news station reported.
Family members have stated that Wallace was bipolar. A local ABC affiliate reported that Wallace had been ordered by a judge to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in 2013.
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His family’s attorney, Shaka Johnson, said that Wallace was taking lithium, and suggested that the officers who arrived at the scene should have been properly trained to deal with his condition.
The shooting led to mayhem in the streets of Philadelphia, prompting Governor Tom Wolf to mobilize the National Guard in a bid to restore order and stop further vandalism and looting. Police forces across the United States have been accused of carrying out racially motivated shootings and other acts of violence, following the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police in May. His killing sparked riots that spread across the country, with many parts of the country still seeing Black Lives Matter demonstrations on a regular or even nightly basis.
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