By MICHAEL RUBINKAM Associated Press
A Philadelphia police officer who shot and killed a driver turned himself in Friday and was charged with murder in the man’s death as prosecutors released graphic bodycam footage of the fatal confrontation.
Officer Mark Dial surrendered on a criminal warrant and was arraigned Friday on charges of murder, voluntary manslaughter, official oppression and four other counts. Dial did not comment as he walked past reporters to surrender. His lawyer insisted the shooting was justified, saying Dial thought 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry had a gun.
Police bodycam footage of the fatal shooting shows Dial firing his weapon at close range through the rolled-up driver’s side window of Irizarry’s sedan during a vehicle stop on Aug. 14. Dial shot Irizarry about seven seconds after getting out of a police SUV and striding over to Irizarry’s car, according to the video. He fired a total of six rounds.
The videos, pulled from Dial’s body-worn camera and the camera of a second officer on the scene, “are crucial evidence in the case and in many ways they speak for themselves,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said at a news conference.
Dial’s attorney, Fortunato N. Perri Jr., said a vigorous defense was planned.
“Despite what has been portrayed to the media, the facts will unmistakably show that Officer Mark Dial was legally justified in discharging his weapon while fearing for his life,” Perri said in an email to The Associated Press.
Dial was released on $500,000 bail Friday and was due in court later this month for a preliminary hearing on the charges. The police union confirmed it posted 10% of the bail amount to secure Dial’s release.
Another defense lawyer, Brian J. McMonagle, called the decision to charge him with murder “appalling.”
“When police officers ordered him to show his hands, he instead produced a weapon and pointed it at an armed police officer,” McMonagle told reporters. “In no world (are) those facts murder. We intend to right this wrong.”
The bodycam footage shows Irizarry holding a knife in his right hand, by his right leg, before he was shot.
Krasner, the district attorney, declined to answer questions about what the videos showed but said the facts clearly supported the charges.
“We have been trying to be fair, fair to everyone. We have been trying to make it very clear that justice is evenhanded. It is evenhanded if you are powerful or not powerful, rich or not rich, famous or not famous, an insider or an outsider,” he said.
Authorities have said Dial shot Irizarry after officers spotted his car being driven erratically around noon Aug. 14 and followed it for several blocks. Officers approached as the driver turned the wrong way down a one-way street and stopped.
The department backtracked after initially claiming the officers made a traffic stop and shot a person outside the vehicle after he “lunged at” police with a knife. Outgoing Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said a review of the officers’ body-worn cameras “made it very clear that what we initially reported was not actually what happened.”
Dial had served on the force for five years and was suspended with intent to dismiss after officials said he refused to cooperate in the investigation of the killing.
The family called for a lengthy prison sentence for Dial.
“Seeing this video again, is like ripping my heart apart,” Irizarry’s aunt, Zoraida Garcia, told The Philadelphia Inquirer in a text message, saying Dial should spend the rest of his life behind bars. “Even though it’s not gonna bring my nephew back, but he should pay for what did, took an innocent life.”
The charges against Dial came three days after the mayor announced that Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw will step down later this month, ending a turbulent three years in which she guided one of the country’s largest police forces through pandemic lockdowns, Black Lives Matter protests and frequent turmoil over race and policing.