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The father of a 27-year-old knife-wielding Philadelphia man shot by police as he charged them on Monday ripped people who have rioted and looted businesses in the days since, saying they disrespect his son and the city by doing so.
The unrest erupted after two Philadelphia police officers shot and killed Walter Wallace earlier this week, resulting in scores of businesses being robbed, automobiles and buildings torched, and more than 30 officers injured in clashes with rioters.
On Tuesday, Walter Wallace Sr., his family, and their lawyer Shaka Johnson held a brief press conference in which he appealed for calm.
“Have some respect for my family and my son and stop this violence and chaos that’s going on in this city,” Wallace said.
“I don’t know what’s going on and I hope people show my family and this city some kind of respect… I don’t have time to loot, burn up,” he continued.
“The people who are doing that are setting a bad example. They aren’t helping me and my family—they’re showing disrespect. They’re making it look like we’re animals and we’re not,” he added.
He went on to say that the looting and rioting taking place would not help anything or anyone and would instead further inflame passions while further dampening the city’s reputation and image, while calling for unity instead of “hate.”
Asked about his son’s reported mental illness, Wallace said that most of society, as a whole, was suffering mentally because of the ongoing pandemic and restrictions associated with it.
He and Wallace Jr.’s mother, Catherine Wallace, both said they are grieving his loss but also the resulting civil unrest.
The elder Wallace also said he hoped that what happened to his son is not repeated, adding that he wished police would have used a non-lethal weapon to subdue him instead.
“I mean how would you feel? That’s not something I would want any parent in life to experience what I’m going through,” he told reporters.
Johnson hinted to reporters that perhaps the police were at fault.
“When you come to a scene where somebody is in a mental crisis, and the only tool you have to deal with it is a gun… where are the proper tools for the job?” she said, according to ABC6.
In recent months, Democrats on the local, state, and federal levels have suggested defunding police departments and shifting that money towards unarmed “crisis response teams” that are staffed, in part, with trained mental health specialists.
While some cities have already implemented such programs, NPR reported earlier this month that San Francisco is set to launch “the largest and boldest urban police reform experiment in decades” incorporating the crisis team concept.
“It’s glaringly obvious we need to change the model,” says San Francisco Fire Dept. Capt. Simon Pang told the outlet.
As for Wallace Jr., video shows two officers and some bystanders repeatedly instructing him to put down a knife, which he refuses to do.
Officers initially backed away from Wallace while still instructing him to drop the knife before he turns towards them, holding the knife out in front, the video shows.
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