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One year after the police killing of a Philadelphia man, the city agrees to equip its force with tasers as part of settlement

Walter Wallace Jr. in a family photo Courtesy Wallace family

(CNN) — In a settlement between Philadelphia and the family of Walter Wallace, the city says it will provide money for stun guns, such as Tasers, for every patrol officer in the Police Department.

The city also says officers will be required to wear the less-lethal weapons, and they will be properly trained as part of a larger police reform program costing the city $13.9 million.

Wallace was shot and killed by police while holding a knife on October 26, 2020, just months after the police killing of another Black man, George Floyd, which sparked national debate about police procedures and reform.

“I recognize that this is a very difficult time for the family of Walter Wallace, Jr. and for the entire city of Philadelphia. 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. I am committed to making lasting reforms that will ensure that all Philadelphians have the safety and available supports that they deserve,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement Wednesday.

According to the Wallace family, the 27-year-old was having a mental breakdown when he was shot by police after they responded to a 911 call. Officers weren’t equipped with a less-lethal option, according to previous CNN reporting.

Body-worn camera footage of the incident, reviewed last year by CNN, shows Wallace emerging form the front door of his home holding what appears to be a knife. As officers command him to put the knife down, a woman can be heard in the background shouting that Wallace is “mental.”

An officer tells Wallace to “back up,” before opening fire with his pistol.

Shaka Johnson, an attorney for the Wallace family, said Wednesday that the settlement “reflects an acknowledgment that the city must do their part to ensure their officers are equipped with the tools to protect and serve the citizens of Philadelphia. It is our belief, and the sincere hope of the Wallace family that these measures will save lives.”

The settlement will go into effect after gaining expected approval by the Court of Common Pleas.

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