Philadelphia burned for two nights. Around 30 officers were injured. People were furious at yet another black man being shot by police. The usual suspects were out there screaming about how the police were resorting to brutality, they were looking for black men to gun down and this was just another example.
People rioted. They burned buildings. They looted.
They did it without much understanding of just what happened, either. Once news trickled out about specifics, everyone had to play armchair quarterback, but that was generally based on second-hand information.
Now, police have released the body cam footage.
The suspect, Walter Wallace, was violent already. His sister, among others, called to tell the police that the suspect was beating his mother. His brother called, too. In his brother’s call, you can hear some kind of commotion in the background.
He was violent.
“He was having a mental health episode,” some have argued.
Yet in multiple 9-1-1 calls, no one told police he was having an episode. Not that it would have mattered, mind you, but you can’t fault police for not acting on what they didn’t know.
Wallace ignored I don’t know how many calls to drop the knife. He made moves toward multiple people and the officers didn’t fire until the end.
Looking at all that in totality, the officers appear very restrained, actually. It’s clear they didn’t want to fire his weapon. That’s true of the vast majority of law enforcement officers, really. Yet with these two, that’s clear.
It wasn’t until it appeared that he wasn’t going to follow instructions.
Let’s be clear as well, the shooting followed what looked like an aggressive move back into the streets, followed by continued ignoring of officers’ instructions.
We should also note that after Wallace’s mother threw her phone at police, she wasn’t assaulted in return. If they wanted to be brutal towards members of the black community, she gave them a golden opportunity, yet again, they were restrained.
I’m not going to say definitively that this is a good shoot. While the suspect made an aggressive movement back into the street, officers didn’t fire then. I don’t see anyone he was moving toward, so I won’t say it’s a clear cut, 100 percent good shoot.
That doesn’t mean it’s not, though. Now we’re getting into stuff that’s beyond my knowledge and I’m not afraid to admit it. That’ll be for the Philadelphia Police Department to determine, but the release of this suggests they already know the answer.
What is clear, though, is that Wallace was still a threat. He was violent already and was armed. My guess is that it was just a matter of time before he came after the officers or someone else. I have no doubt they did what they had to do, though.
Meanwhile, I suspect this won’t do much to make people feel better about what happened, mostly because so few of them actually understand what they’re looking at.
Now, though, we can discuss it with clear evidence of what actually happened rather than everyone’s interpretation.