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Philadelphia police shoot man holding knife, sparking protests

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Philadelphia overnight Monday following the police killing of a 27-year-old Black man, with local authorities saying that clashes between police and demonstrators resulted in 30 officers injured and dozens of people arrested. 

According to The Associated Press, Philadelphia police spokesperson Tanya Little said officers shot and killed a man, later identified as Walter Wallace, just before 4 p.m. Monday after officers reportedly ordered Wallace to drop a knife. 

Little said that Wallace then “advanced towards” the two police officers, who then fired at Wallace “several times.” 

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Video of the incident was soon posted on social media, with the footage showing a woman running up to Wallace and screaming followed by several bystanders approaching. 

While it is unclear in the video if Wallace was carrying a knife, several witnesses said he was holding one as he moved toward the officers. 

Wallace, who was hit in the shoulder and the chest, was brought to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to the AP. 

Demonstrations erupted in the city following news of the shooting, with the AP reporting that police vehicles and dumpsters were set on fire as officers attempted to disperse crowds. 

Preliminary information from police indicated that officers were struck by projectiles such as bricks and rocks, with one officer hospitalized in stable condition with a broken leg and other injuries after being struck by a pickup truck, according to the AP. 

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) said in a statement in response to the police shooting that “the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit of PPD will conduct a full investigation.” 

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“I look forward to a speedy and transparent resolution for the sake of Mr. Wallace, his family, the officers, and for Philadelphia,” the mayor said. 

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw confirmed the launch of an investigation in a separate statement, adding that she would be holding a meeting with the mayor, community members and members of Wallace’s family to “hear their concerns as soon as it can be scheduled.”

“I recognize that the video of the incident raises many questions. Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation,” Outlaw said in the statement. “While at the scene this evening, I heard and felt the anger of the community. Everyone involved will forever be impacted.”

“I will be leaning on what the investigation gleans to answer the many unanswered questions that exist,” the commissioner added. 

Monday evening’s demonstrations came amid months of protests against police brutality following the shootings of Black individuals, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake

Many have demanded policy changes to address racist policing, with some calling for funds to be divested from police departments and instead go toward community programs and mental health services.