Philadelphia, PA – U.S. Senator and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has determined that the Philadelphia police officers who fatally shot Walter Wallace as he lunged at them with a knife are guilty of murder.
Wallace, an aspiring rapper, was fatally shot by two Philadelphia police officers as he charged towards them with a knife on Oct. 26, video footage showed.
“Walter Wallace should be alive today, and our thoughts are with his loved ones,” Sanders tweeted on Wednesday.
He declared that officers are “responsible for murdering him in front of his mother,” and that they should of just gotten him “the medical attention he needed” instead.
Both officers “should be arrested, investigated, and prosecuted by the Justice Department,” Sanders added.
Sanders’ legal advice came just one day after former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted his condolences to the knife-wielding attacker’s family.
“Our hearts are broken for the family of Walter Wallace Jr., and for all those suffering the emotional weight of learning about another Black life in America lost,” Biden wrote. “Walter’s life mattered.”
The New York Police Department Sergeant Benevolent Association (SBA) lashed out at both politicians in separate tweets on Wednesday.
“Walter Wallace was a career criminal ARMED WITH A KNIFE,” the SBA wrote in response to Sanders’ post.
The union noted that Wallace wasn’t using the knife to cut up fruits and vegetables.
“He was arrested for assaulting his own mother,” the SBA continued. “Are you really that much of a fool, stop lying to the people @BernieSanders #feelthestupidity.”
The union turned its attention towards Biden just hours later.
“FACT: Walter Wallace was armed with a knife & trying to kill 2 uniform police officers,” the SBA tweeted in response to the Presidential candidate’s post. “Do the 2 officers lives’ not matter to you? This further explains why NOT ONE police organization in the USA has endorsed you.”
Wallace’s own family said on Thursday that they do not want the officers to be charged with murder, WPVI reported.
The family’s attorney, Shaka Johnson, claimed the officers “were improperly trained and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job.”
Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby noted that cell phone footage of the Oct. 26 encounter showed Wallace lunging at the officers with the knife just before the fatal shooting.
“I mean, there’s not much to this,” McNesby told WPVI. “Wallace had a knife, he was lunging at the officers and, unfortunately, they had to fire.”
The chaos began at approximately 4 p.m. on Monday, when Philadelphia police received a report about a man with a weapon in the 6100-block of Locust Street, WNYW reported.
Two officers responded to the scene and encountered a suspect who was brandishing a knife.
Cell phone footage showed police as they scrambled to keep distance between themselves and the knife-wielding attacker.
Philadelphia Police spokesperson Sergeant Eric Gripp said the officers repeatedly ordered the suspect to drop the weapon, but that he instead “advanced towards the officers,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
As they backed away into the street, the suspect charged towards them with the blade, at which point police opened fire, the video showed.
Family members later identified the suspect as Wallace, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
One of the officers rushed the wounded suspect to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Sgt. Gripp said.
Wallace, a father of nine with another child due to be born on Wednesday, was experiencing a “mental crisis” at the time of the shooting, his family’s attorney told WPVI.
“We always go places,” one of his children said during a press conference prior to Tuesday night’s rioting, according to FOX News. “He always teach [sic] me how to be a man. And these white racist cops got my own dad. And Black Lives still matter.”
Wallace’ mother, Catherine Wallace, claimed that police “stood there and laughed at us” during one of their earlier visits to the family’s home that day, WPVI reported.
She said they refused to listen to her when they were called to the home a third time.
“I was telling police to stop. ‘Don’t shoot my son, please don’t shoot my son,’” Catherine Wallace told WPVI. “They paid me no mind, and shot my son.”
Johnson said that police did not respond correctly, and that the family only wanted medical assistance – not a police response, WPVI reported.
According to WPVI, Wallace was an aspiring rapper who posted a plethora of music videos to his social media accounts.
Much of his content centered around guns and shooting various people, including law enforcement officers.
According to court records, Wallace was waiting to go to trial on allegations that the threatened to shoot a woman and her home when the officer-involved shooting occurred, WPVI reported.
He was convicted of resisting arrest and assault in 2013, after he punched an officer in the face.
The same year, Wallace was court-ordered to complete a psychiatric evaluation and to follow any treatment recommendations, WPVI reported.
It is unclear whether or not he abided by the order.