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Candles and plastic roses rest at a memorial for Walter Wallace Jr. in the 6100 block of Locust Street on October 28, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Joshua Lott/ The Washington Post via Getty Images.
Candles and plastic roses rest at a memorial for Walter Wallace Jr. in the 6100 block of Locust Street on October 28, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Joshua Lott/ The Washington Post via Getty Images.

On anniversary of Walter Wallace Jr.’s killing, Philly pays his family and equips all officers with tasers

The city agreed to pay out $2.5 million in the settlement and fund better training of its police officers.

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On Tuesday, Oct. 26, the anniversary of the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., the city of Philadelphia announced that it will spend $14 million to equip all of its officers with tasers, train them on how to use them and require officers to wear them while on duty.

The death of Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who was having a mental health episode at the time of the shooting, sparked days of protests over police brutality, and conversations on the lack of education on mental health issues among law enforcement officials.

"In 46 seconds of arriving and seeing him, he was shot six times," said Rev. Mark Tyler at a vigil held on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

“The killing of Mr. Wallace Jr. was painful and traumatic for many Philadelphians. This tragic and unsettling incident, along with last year’s protests, underscored the urgency of many important reforms such as mental health training and crisis response resources,” said Mayor Jim Kenny in a statement.

After the shooting, police and city officials reported that nearly two-thirds of the more than 6,000-member police department were not equipped with or trained to use electroshock weapons, a less lethal use of force.

As part of reforms in how the police and first responders deal with mental health emergencies, Philadelphia launched a pilot program that pairs a healthcare worker with a police officer to respond to 911 calls. 

The city hopes to expand this program. 

The Wallace family sued the officers, Sean Matarazzo and Thomas Munz Jr., for allegedly using unreasonable force. They also sued the city for not equipping the police with stun guns, which had been recommended after a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Justice. 

The lawsuit reached a settlement on Thursday, Oct. 28, with the city agreeing to pay out $2.5 million to Wallace’s family, as first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In a statement on Tuesday, the family’s lawyer, Shaka Johnson said that Wallce’s relatives continue to grieve his “unnecessary and tragic death” and seek more reforms for the city.

“It is their overwhelming desire that these reforms will lead to a safer City for all citizens and ensure that no family will be forced to endure the tragedy of the loss of a loved one during a mental crisis,” Johnson said.

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said that the agreement to equip every officer with a Taser “is the right decision” for Philadelphia. 

"The training requirement on how to use these devices is equally important. We thank the Wallace family for its role in this settlement with the city,” Clarke said in a statement. 

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with the amount the city paid out to Wallace Jr.'s family. 
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