Protesters unleash on Philadelphia cops after killing of mentally ill man

Protesters injured 30 police officers in Philadelphia Monday during a night of rioting and looting following the police shooting of a mentally ill man.

Police said at least 30 people were arrested on charges of assaulting police, looting and rioting. Six law enforcement vehicles were also vandalized, police said.

Protesters gathered outside the 18th District police headquarters on 55th and Pine streets and the University of Penn Police headquarters on 40th and Chestnut streets after news spread that 27-year-old Walter Wallace was shot and killed by two officers in Cobbs Creek.

Shortly before 4 p.m., two officers responded to the 6100 block of Locust Street after a report of a man with a knife, police said. Family members identified him as Walter Wallace Jr.

Investigators said Wallace was armed with a knife when he approached the officers and ignored their commands to drop the weapon.

Video from a witness showed Wallace walking toward the officers as his mother tried to restrain him, but didn’t clearly show if he was holding a weapon.

Wallace continued to charge at the officers and police fired several gunshots. Wallace was laying on the ground as his mother ran toward him, screaming. He was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The shooting sparked unrest in the city, leading to a standoff between an angry crowd of about 300 Black Lives Matter protesters and police that stretched into Tuesday morning.

Protesters threw rocks and bricks at several police officers assembled in a line wearing helmets and shields and carrying batons.

A 56-year-old sergeant who was struck by a pickup truck at 52nd and Walnut streets early Tuesday was hospitalized. Her leg was broken, among other injuries, police said. The other officers were treated and released as of early Tuesday.

Videos posted on social media showed police on 52nd Street confronting and chasing away protesters. Others showed protesters charging at the officers who were forced to retreat. Rioters also set fire to several police cars and dumpsters.

Looters descended on stores along West Philadelphia’s business corridors before daybreak Tuesday, breaking in and scooping up a variety of goods, including clothing.

Unrest and looting was also reported in other parts of the city, including Center City, University City and Overbrook Park.

Police said numerous stores were broken into, including several Rite Aid stores in West Philadelphia, clothing and shoe stores, a beauty supply store and at least one restaurant.

People were also observed attempting to break into a check cashing store. They also tried to break into at least two ATMs, leaving broken glass strewn on the ground.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and Mayor Jim Kenney issued a joint statement: “I have directed the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit to begin its investigation. I recognize that the video of the incident raises many questions. Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation,” Outlaw said.

“While at the scene this evening, I heard and felt the anger of the community. Everyone involved will forever be impacted. I will be leaning on what the investigation gleans to answer the many unanswered questions that exist. I also plan to join the Mayor in meeting with members of the community and members of Mr. Wallace’s family to hear their concerns as soon as it can be scheduled,” he noted.

Kenney also backed a full investigation into the incident after watching video footage. “My prayers are with the family and friends of Walter Wallace,” Kenney said. “I have watched the video of this tragic incident and it presents difficult questions that must be answered. I spoke tonight with Mr. Wallace’s family, and will continue to reach out to hear their concerns first-hand, and to answer their questions to the extent that I am able.

“The Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit of PPD will conduct a full investigation. I look forward to a speedy and transparent resolution for the sake of Mr. Wallace, his family, the officers, and for Philadelphia,” he said.

District Attorney Larry Krasner also issued a statement saying, “We intend to go where the facts and law lead us and to do so carefully, without rushing to judgment and without bias of any kind.”

“In the hours and days following this shooting, we ask Philadelphians to come together to uphold people’s freedom to express themselves peacefully and to reject violence of any kind,” Krasner said.