Philadelphia, PA – The City of Brotherly Love has agreed to settle a lawsuit with the family of mentally-ill man who was shot when he lunged at police with a knife despite the fact family members lied about what happened which sparked violent riots in the city.
Attorney Shaka Johnson told reporters at a press conference that the settlement was “substantial” but said it was important to note that it also included an injunctive agreement that would change policing in Philadelphia.
Under the injunctive agreement, the city will change the Philadelphia Police Department’s policy to require all patrol officers to carry stun guns on duty, the Associated Press reported.
The city has announced it will spent $14 million to buy the equipment and train the officers.
“It was… a substantial monetary settlement that reflected the tragedy that took place, the city’s role and policy failures that contributed to his death,” Johnson said. “The financial settlement was never the family’s primary objective. They have from the beginning called for reforms to the police department.”
The incident began at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Oct. 26 when neighbors and Wallace’s family members began calling 911 and asking for police to respond to the 6100-block of Locust Street.
Audio recordings from dispatch showed that Wallace’s next door neighbor was the first to call and said the people next door were fighting and that someone had asked her to “call the cops right away.”
At the exact same time, Wallace’s sister called 911 and said “he’s over there hitting my mother and father” and that the police had already responded to the residence once but hadn’t done anything to stop him, according to the recordings.
His sister told the 911 operator that she didn’t think her brother was armed when they asked, but she warned them he had a history of violence.
“No, but he’s on probation and everything. He got a case for being violent and everything. He got a whole record,” she told the dispatcher.
She also asked for an ambulance for her mother and father, the audio recording showed.
Neither caller mentioned that Wallace was suffering from a mental health emergency and the only request that was made for medical attention was by his sister to assist his parents.
Bodycam video from the two officers who responded to the scene showed that a moment after they arrived at the home, Wallace came out of the front door with a long, silver-bladed knife in his right hand.
Officers told Wallace to put the knife down multiple times, but he completely ignored them and began walking down the sidewalk toward one of the officers, the video showed.
Then bodycam video showed he walked between parked cars and into the middle of the street where he switched directions and began walking toward the other officer.
One of the officer yelled at witnesses to back up as Wallace’s mother ran from another house a few doors up and grabbed ahold of her son in the street.
He brushed her off and continued to cross the street, then switched direction again and headed back toward the other officer, the video showed.
Wallace’s mother continued to shadow him down the sidewalk and then the knife-wielding man quickly cut back into the street.
On the video, officers could be heard telling Wallace at least 11 more times to put down the knife before they opened fire on him, WPVI reported.
Police officials said that each officer fired at least seven shots at Wallace but they have not revealed how many times the armed man was struck.
Bodycam video showed Wallace’s mother became hysterical and threw her cell phone at one of the officers.
Then she attacked him as she screamed, the video showed.
Bodycam showed the officers struggled to secure the scene as neighbors approached Wallace on the ground.
Officers rushed Wallace to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
The family told reporters that they had called 911 and asked for help for a mental health crisis, not police intervention.
A police radio transmission showed that officers were warned they were responding to a domestic disturbance and told to use caution, WPVI reported.
Neither officer who responded to the scene was equipped with a Taser because Philadelphia police haven’t received funding to give the less-lethal weapons to every officer.
Riots broke out in Philadelphia and then spread into numerous other major cities as social media rumors and incorrect media reports said Wallace’s family had called 911 for mental health assistance and had gotten a police response instead.
However, the audio recordings of the 911 calls to police proved that was not the case.
Johnson announced the family would be filing a lawsuit shortly after the incident.
“The man was suffering. He was on doctor’s care. He was on a regiment of lithium, etc., and the police were here earlier that day,” the attorney explained.