Scranton, PA – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement on the fatal shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.:
“I am saddened and disturbed at the loss of another Black man, Walter Wallace Jr., at the hands of the police. My heart is with the Wallace family and the West Philadelphia community that Walter called home. I have spoken with Mayor Kenney and Police Commissioner Outlaw to express my concern about what I saw on video of Mr. Wallace’s last moments. There must be a swift and truly independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Wallace’s death.
Police officers have difficult, dangerous jobs that require quick decisions with long-term consequences. We must find ways to protect the safety of everyone involved in these critical situations and to de-escalate them, rather than firing a dozen shots, especially when a victim may be in mental distress. There are no simple answers, but as long as people of color keep dying unnecessarily at the hands of police, we must keep searching for solutions and striving for systemic change.
Walter Wallace Jr.’s life mattered. His death is a tragedy and another failure of our systems of policing and criminal justice. We have to change how police and law enforcement respond to these situations, and we can start by passing the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. It is long past time to reform a system that has been broken for far too long and cost far too many lives. In the coming days, I will be introducing legislation to change how the police interact with people with disabilities and those experiencing a mental health crisis. My bill will create a permanent review board to examine every violent interaction between law enforcement and people with disabilities, and also provide new resources for people in mental health crises as well as specific training for law enforcement to appropriately respond to them.
The unrest in Philadelphia overnight is demonstrative of a community in pain and asking for justice. I am listening, and I will continue to fight to reform our systems. My thoughts and prayers are with the Wallace family and all of those who are grieving, the 30 police officers who were injured in the line of duty yesterday, and the people of West Philadelphia.”