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Philadelphia settles wrongful death suit from Walter Wallace Jr.'s family and enacts reform

Philadelphia has settled a wrongful death lawsuit between the city and the family of Walter Wallace Jr., according to family attorney Shaka Johnson. As a part of the settlement, the family of Wallace Jr. will receive an undisclosed amount of money.

The city has also committed to spending $14 million to equip each police officer with a Taser, a reform the family has pushed for since Wallace Jr.'s death. 

"Those terms were never their primary objective in their calls for justice after Walter's death," Johnson said Thursday, announcing the settlement. "Rather they have been focused on establishing the lasting change to the city that they are confident will save lives through the agreement and injunctive relief."

Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Philadelphia resident, was having a mental health crisis when he was shot by police on October 26, 2020, according to his family. Footage released by the police department showed Wallace silently walking towards officers and holding a knife he refused to drop. Two police officers, Sean Materazzo and Thomas Munz, then shoot Wallace Jr. 14 times, killing him.

Neither officer had a Taser, CBS Philadelphia reported. 

The death of Wallace Jr. plunged Philadelphia into temporary chaos, sparking hundreds of protests that called for comprehensive police reform. Wallace Jr.'s family has maintained that better training in mental health advocacy may have saved him, and they have committed to holding the city accountable while they mourn their loss. 

"The killing of Mr. Wallace, Jr. was painful and traumatic for many Philadelphians," Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement, according to CBS Philadelphia. "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."

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