A judge on Tuesday afternoon revoked bail for former police officer Mark Dial, who is charged with murder in connection with last month’s fatal shooting of Eddie “Junito” Irizarry Jr. in Kensington.
Dial, 27, of the Far Northeast, was told to hand over his personal belongings to his attorneys before sheriff’s deputies led him away. His legal team indicated they may appeal the decision, and the issue is likely to come up again at Dial’s preliminary hearing, which is scheduled for next week.
Though nearly everyone charged with murder in Philadelphia is denied bail, a magistrate initially set Dial’s bond at $1 million. Prosecutors appealed, and a judge lowered the amount to 10% of $500,000.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, which has been supporting Dial’s defense, quickly paid the bail, and Dial was released Sept. 8, the same day he surrendered to authorities.
The District Attorney’s Office has argued that the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits bail for those charged with crimes that carry a maximum penalty of life in prison – the mandatory sentence for someone convicted of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors have not specified the degree of murder in the case, with Lyandra Retacco, chief of the DAO’s special investigations unit, saying that would be determined through a preliminary hearing.
“I don’t know whether it’s first-degree or third-degree at this stage,” Retacco told Judge Lillian Ransom.
The maximum sentence for third-degree murder in Pennsylvania in most cases is 40 years in prison.
Attorney Brian McMonagle, representing Dial, cited a recent state Supreme Court opinion in asserting that prosecutors needed to present compelling evidence to have a defendant held without bail. “They have a burden of proof here today that they have not met,” he added.
McMonagle and his team have said that Dial thought Irizarry had a gun during the Aug. 14 traffic stop and feared for his life. On Tuesday, McMonagle said the words “f—ing gun,” followed by “he’s got a knife” could be heard on video of the shooting, a characterization Retacco disputed.
Ransom, following her ruling, said Dial would initially be jailed in Philadelphia, though he could be moved if his safety is at risk. Prosecutors said they would not oppose his relocation. Court documents show he was sent to the Detention Center on State Road in Holmesburg.
“We have every expectation that he’ll be out of custody as soon as we have a preliminary hearing,” McMonagle told reporters outside the courthouse. “There’s no way in this world that this is a first-degree murder case.”
He went on to say that he had never heard a prosecutor say they “didn’t know” whether the case was a first- or third-degree murder. Retacco, also speaking after the hearing, described her comment as a “rhetorical flourish.”
“What I said was that there are factors that would support both a first-degree finding and a third-degree finding,” she added. The DAO often charges both offenses prior to a preliminary hearing, Retacco said.
Dial is set to go before a judge again Tuesday, Sept. 26 for his preliminary hearing, and a decision on the specific charge could be made then.
Relatives of Irizarry and Dial filed into the courtroom Tuesday for the bail hearing at the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice.
“What’s appalling to us is, as the united family, that Dial was still able to go free,” Irizarry’s aunt, Ana Cintron, said in a statement after the decision. “Today, justice was made for now, and he is behind bars.”
When Dial was charged earlier this month, the DAO released body-worn camera footage of the shooting at the request of Irizarry’s family.
The video, along with other surveillance clips, shows that Dial fired six shots almost immediately after exiting his police cruiser on the 100 block of E. Willard Street, where Irizarry had pulled over. Police have said two knives were recovered from Irizarry’s vehicle.
Dial and his partner began trailing Irizarry when they allegedly noticed him driving erratically near B and Westmoreland streets.
In the hours after the shooting, a PPD public information officer told reporters that Irizarry had “lunged at” officers with a knife. Authorities revised that narrative more than 24 hours later, after reviewing evidence showing that Irizarry was seated inside his car at the time of shooting.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw on Aug. 23 said she was suspending and firing Dial for not cooperating with the department’s internal investigation.