Eddie Irizarry: Judge dismisses all charges against Philadelphia police officer who shot and killed 27-year-old man



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A Philadelphia Municipal Court judge on Tuesday dismissed all charges, including murder, against the Philadelphia police officer who shot 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry during a traffic stop last month.

Officer Mark Dial was charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter and five other counts following the August 14 shooting in Philadelphia. The case was notable because police initially told reporters that Irizarry “attacked officers” outside his vehicle, later admitting that video disproved that claim.

A preliminary court hearing Tuesday included police body-camera footage and surveillance video of the shooting, as well as testimony from a detective, Dial’s police partner and the officer attached to the shooting division.

The partner, Officer Michael Morris, testified that he yelled “knife” as they approached Irizarry’s vehicle, and video shows he also yelled “gun.” He testified that he was screaming because he feared for his life.

Additionally, the court was shown a photograph of the knife in Irizarry’s possession and how it was located in the car. The defense argued that the knife “has a handle similar to the handle of a gun” and could be seen as a gun in the eyes of officers.

The prosecution argued that first-degree murder charges were appropriate because Dial had already approached the vehicle with a gun “to conduct a routine traffic stop.”

Dial’s defense attorney Brian McMonagle countered, “There is no way in this world this man could have committed murder.” “And every tragedy is not a crime.”

Judge Wendy L. Pew said he agreed “100%” with the defense and rejected the allegations.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said it disagrees with the verdict and plans to appeal.

“Prosecutors from the Special Investigations Unit will file an appeal of this decision in the Court of Common Pleas by the end of today. “In keeping with our oath to seek justice, we will move to reinstate all criminal charges, including murder, against this defendant,” the office said.

Fortunato Peri Jr., one of Dial’s defense attorneys, praised the decision.

“The evidence presented by the prosecutor clearly supports Mr. Dial’s reasonable belief that Mr. Irizarry was pointing a gun at him during the stop,” he said in a statement.

Shock and celebration in court

The judge’s decision drew strong reactions from both sides on Tuesday.

The right side of the courtroom behind the defendant was filled primarily with Dial’s family and police officers, including several in uniform. The left side of the courtroom was filled with Irizarry’s family members, many of whom wore shirts bearing his image.

When the judge announced the dismissal of the charges, Dial’s supporters jumped from their seats and began to celebrate, while the left began screaming in disbelief. When people came out of the court room, some abusive words were uttered by the officers. A woman on Irizarry’s side had to be consoled as she was crying and looking at the judge as he left.

Irizarry’s family members said they were disappointed by the judge’s decision.

“I think everybody is upset and saddened by it,” said his sister, Maria Irizarry. “There is a lot of evidence. “They say it’s a lack of evidence, which there isn’t.”

“We’re upset, very upset,” said Zoraida Garcia, Irizarry’s aunt. “They said there was a lack of evidence. What more proof do you need? You can watch the video; The video was played in the court. The judge has seen the video. To withdraw all charges, he should not even become a judge.

“He dropped all charges, so it’s okay for you to murder someone and get away with it.”

WPVI

Philadelphia police officer Mark Dial, center, turned himself in on felony warrants related to the fatal shooting of Eddie Irizarry on September 8.

According to the initial police statement, two officers saw a man driving erratically, and when the man stopped in a parking lot, they approached the vehicle. Seconds later, one of the officers fatally shot Irizarry.

Police initially told reporters that officers had given the man multiple commands to drop his weapon while he was outside his vehicle and Irizarry lunged at the officers.

However, two days later, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, citing body-worn camera footage, said that the shooting occurred while Irizarry was inside the vehicle. “The video made it clear that what we initially reported did not actually happen,” Outlaw said.

The Philadelphia District Attorney charged Dial with murder and other serious crimes earlier this month and released disturbing body camera footage of the shooting.

Larry Krasner said after the release of the footage, “These body-worn camera videos will be introduced as evidence, possibly at both the preliminary hearing and trial.” “They are key evidence in the case and in many ways, they speak for themselves.”

Outlaw also said that he had suspended Dial with the intention of firing him at the end of 30 days.

DIAL had not filed any plea before Tuesday’s hearing.

“We intend to vigorously defend him against the charges,” Perry, one of the defense attorneys, said in a statement. “Regardless of what has been portrayed in the media, the facts will clearly show that Officer Mark Dial was legally justified in discharging his weapon out of fear for his life.”

McMonagle said his client believed Irizarry was pointing a gun at him.

“The video evidence in this case that we have uncovered completely demonstrates that Officer Dial got out of his car, ordered (Irizarry) to show his hands and then heard the ‘gunshot’,” McMonagle said.

Irizarry’s aunt Garcia said the family believed there may have been a language barrier between Irizarry and police because he did not speak English well. He moved to Philadelphia from Puerto Rico seven years ago, he said.


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