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Philadelphia Moves Toward a Better Response to Mental Health 911 Calls

Philadelphia Tribune    November 9, 2021

Read full article at Philadelphia Tribune 

A year after the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., the city has settled a wrongful death lawsuit and announced plans to better equip its officers to handle situation involving people dealing with mental health issues.

The city announced a wrongful death settlement filed by the Wallace family. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the family was awarded $2.5 million from the city.

Wallace, a mentally distressed Black man, was killed outside his West Philadelphia home on Oct. 26, 2020, by police officers responding to a 911 call and hearing warnings from Wallace’s relatives that he was mentally unstable. Video from the incident showed Wallace holding a knife when the officers arrived and asked him repeatedly to drop the weapon. When he did not, and moved toward one officer, officers shot several rounds and killed him.

Wallace’s death came just month after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked protests in Philadelphia and cities across the country and world over excessive police force and racial injustice. The protests and push for reform over both deaths pushed city officials to take a well needed look internally at its law enforcement policies

Both the settlement and the new focus on mental health 911 calls are important to preventing such a tragedy from reoccurring.

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