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Walter Wallace Jr struggled with mental health issues, family says

Updated 3:51 PM ET, Wed October 28, 2020

(CNN) - Walter Wallace Jr. could have not been a threat to police officers in Philadelphia when he was shot and killed, his family says.

"He can't hurt a damn fly. He had mental issues," his father, Walter Wallace Sr., told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Prime Time Tuesday night.

Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man, was shot and killed during a confrontation with police in West Philadelphia Monday after officers responded to a report of a person with a weapon. Philadelphia Police Sgt. Eric Grippafter told CNN affiliate KYW that officers saw a man with a knife who "was brandishing it, and waving it erratically."

"It could have been dealt with in a different way. He could have called a superior to handle the situation," Wallace said.

Wallace, who had nine children, suffered from bipolar disorder and was in crisis during the time of the shooting, his family said.

Relatives called authorities at least three times that day, including one time when Wallace's brother asked for an ambulance, Shaka Johnson, an attorney representing the Wallace family, said in a news conference Tuesday.

"Law enforcement was called because they wanted an ambulance to come here," Johnson said. "The police are who arrived first."

It's unclear whether police responded to all three calls. CNN has reached out to police and the family attorney for clarity.

The attorney said Wallace's wife then told officers that her husband was "manic, bipolar" and in crisis.

"Unfortunately, the officers were not equipped with the training or the proper equipment to deal with a person who was experiencing crisis in that moment," Johnson told CNN. "You don't deal with crisis with a firearm."

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Tuesday that the officers involved in the shooting were not equipped with Tasers and every officer in the city is not issued one.

It's common for officers to respond to domestic disturbances with a gun because it's "one of the tools that we carry on our tool belt," she said.

The fatal shooting has sparked consecutive days of protests in Philadelphia, which have turned into violent clashes with police and looting.

Wallace's father asked protesters to honor his son's memory and the city they call home.

"I don't want to leave a bad scar on my son and my family with this looting and chaos stuff," he told CNN. "So I want my son's name and everybody to stop this. Give my son a chance. And the family like we're decent people."

"Everybody to have respect for our family, to pray for us. Cut it out. The looting is a mindset and it won't bring my son back. And it won't, it will escalate things to get worse instead of better," he added.

Family members also stood outside the Wallace family home on Tuesday in front of reporters, calling for peaceful demonstrations and talking about Wallace.

Wallace's wife, who Johnson said is expected to give birth to a girl "any day now," and two of Wallace's young sons joined other relatives.

One of Wallace's sons told reporters his dad taught him to be a man and had died but "Black lives still matter."


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