Bodycam video released in Walter Wallace Jr. shooting, Philadelphia officers involved identified

By6abc Digital Staff, Bob Brooks, Dann Cuellar WPVI logo
Thursday, November 5, 2020
Philadelphia officers in Walter Wallace Jr. shooting identified; bodycam video released
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The City of Philadelphia has released bodycam video and 911 audio of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. on Wednesday.

PHILADELPHIA -- The City of Philadelphia has released bodycam video and 911 audio of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. on Wednesday.

Officers can be heard saying "put the knife down" at least 11 times before Wallace was fatally shot on October 26.

The bodycam video shows the officer approaching the home and Wallace appearing on the steps with a knife.

Wallace begins to move off the steps, disregarding multiple commands to drop the weapon. As Wallace enters the middle of the road wielding the knife he is shot multiple times.

WATCH: Bodycam video released in Walter Wallace Jr. shooting

The officers each fired at least seven rounds - at least 14 total shots - but police could not say how many times Wallace was struck.

"We truly believe that this is an important step in our commitment to transparency," said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw during a press conference before the release of the video.

This is the first time in the department's history that bodycam video has been released to the public.

The city says multiple investigations are still underway and announced a series of steps aimed at changing how police respond to incidents involving people with mental health issues.

"We understand that the materials released today will be very painful," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

Outlaw identified the officers involved in the fatal shooting as 25-year-old Sean Matarazzo, who joined the force in 2018, and 26-year-old Thomas Munz, who joined the force in 2017.

Outlaw also pledged to put reforms in place by late next year that includes more deescalation training for police and better coordination with mental health specialists.

"Under the new program, when behavioral health crisis calls come into dispatch from police radio, embedded clinical staff will work alongside dispatchers to determine the most appropriate response," said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

WATCH: Philadelphia mayor, police commissioner speak about bodycam video in Walter Wallace Jr. shooting

At the request of the Wallace family, District Attorney Larry Krasner says only part of the video was released.

"We have protected that family, we have done here exactly what they asked us to do, to be transparent but also to protect their privacy in a moment of tragedy that is devastating this family," said Krasner.

Last week, the Wallace family reviewed the bodycam video with Commissioner Outlaw.

"I understand he had a knife, but that does not give you carte blanche to execute a man, quite frankly," lawyer Shaka Johnson told reporters at a news conference outside Philadelphia City Hall. "What other than death did you intend when you shoot a man - each officer - seven times apiece?"

911 Calls Released

Family members say police were called multiple times before the fatal shooting. 911 calls released Wednesday shed some light on what officers may have known prior to arrival.

"Could you send the cops ... the people next door are fighting," said one neighbor at 3:42:18 p.m.

Seconds later, another call was made by a family member.

"I'm the daughter to my mother and father, and my brother is -- they called the cops earlier and the cops is not doing nothing. He's over there hitting my mother and father," said the woman at 3:42:22 p.m.

"Any weapons involved?" asked the 911 operator.

"No, but he got ... he's on probation. He got a case for being violent, he got a whole record," said the woman.

Another call was made at 3:34:20 p.m.

"My mom needs help," said a man on the call.

WATCH: Walter Wallace Jr.'s family does not want Philadelphia officers to face murder charges, attorney says

In a police radio transmission just released, audio reveals a warning for officers to use caution.

"Have the officers use caution responding... this is an ongoing domestic issue going on up there," the dispatcher says.

No Tasers

Johnson said that the Wallace family is not calling for the police officers who fired the fatal shots to be charged with murder.

"And here's why, here's why: they were improperly trained and did not have the proper equipment by which to effectuate their job," Johnson said.

No decision has been made if charges will be filed against the officers.

The officers who shot Wallace did not have a Taser, Outlaw said, noting the department had previously asked for funding to equip more officers with those devices.

When asked what he is doing to secure funding to ensure all officers are equipped and trained on the use of Tasers, Mayor Kenney said he is consulting with City Council for a potential immediate transfer of money for that.

"Of course we need to speed it up and make sure everybody has one and is trained to use it," said Kenney.

Johnson said the city has failed the Wallace family, the community and its police officers.

"The city has failed, not only the Wallace family, not only the other members of that community, who will be scarred and traumatized for the remainder of their days, but the city has also failed those police officers, it failed them tremendously. The only remedy the police had, in that moment per their thinking, was their service weapon. There was no less lethal action available. And that has been our war cry," said Johnson.