May 25, 2022
An off-duty Philadelphia police officer died Tuesday evening after his motorcycle struck a car in South Philadelphia. The officer was identified as 27-year-old Thomas Munz Jr., one of two PPD officers who were involved in the deadly Oct. 2020 shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. in West Philadelphia.
The crash happened around 6:40 along the 3300 block of Broad Street, authorities said. Munz was traveling southbound when his black Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle came into contact with the rear driver's side of a Chevrolet Equinox. The impact ejected Munz from the motorcycle and he landed in the roadway. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities said the driver of the car remained at the scene and did not suffer any injuries.
Philadelphia police did not immediately provide a statement on Munz's death.
A four-year PPD veteran, Munz was one of two 18th District officers involved in the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. on Oct. 26, 2020. The incident garnered national attention in the tense months following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, directing scrutiny toward PPD's deescalation of an encounter with a young Black man experiencing a mental breakdown. Wallace was armed with a knife at the time of the shooting on the 6100 block of Locust Street.
A week after the shooting, Philadelphia police released 911 calls and 11 minutes of video footage showing the moments that led up to Wallace's death. Munz had responded to the scene with 26-year-old officer Sean Matarazzo after one of Wallace's family members called 911 to request an ambulance for Wallace, not law enforcement intervention.
The two officers, who did not have Tasers, pointed their guns at Wallace and repeatedly ordered him to drop his knife. When Wallace continued to advance toward the officers, they fired at least 14 gunshots and killed him.
The shooting led to protests in Philadelphia, some of which devolved into riots and looting. Police said those incidents led to more than 200 arrests, as well as injuries to 57 officers involved in confrontations with protesters.
Last October, the city of Philadelphia reached a $2.5 million settlement with Wallace's family over a wrongful death lawsuit filed in the aftermath of the incident. The family also had filed a lawsuit against Munz and Matarazzo.
More than 18 months after the shooting, Munz and Matarazzo had not been criminally charged in Wallace's death pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. Police had a history of interactions with Wallace related to his mental health condition, one of several aspects of the case being reviewed by the D.A.'s Office.
"I join the city in mourning the loss of Officer Thomas Munz, Jr., who was tragically killed in a vehicle crash last night," District Attorney Larry Krasner said Wednesday. "The District Attorney's Office extends our deepest condolences to his family, loved ones, and colleagues in the Department. The events leading up to the crash are currently being investigated, and we stand ready to support the PPD and other involved agencies as needed."
On the one-year anniversary of Wallace's death, PPD pledged to equip all patrol officers with Tasers in order to better prevent escalation to the use of deadly force in future incidents. The department had asked last year for funding to meet that goal as part of a five-year plan. The department has been tasked with adopting a number of reforms in the wake of the police response to civil unrest in 2020.
The city also has incorporated behavioral health specialists into its 911 dispatch operations, implementing a co-responder model that pairs social workers with police officers to better respond to mental health crises.
Krasner said Wednesday that his office's investigation of the Wallace shooting is "nearing the end of its course" and that no further comments will be made until a resolution can be announced.