Story changes in Kensington police killing

police shooting Kensington
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw walks into a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 16, to provide an update on Monday’s fatal police shooting.
Jack Tomczuk

Eddie “Junito” Irizarry, the 27-year-old man fatally shot by police Monday in Kensington, was inside his car when officers opened fire, contrary to an earlier official account saying he had been lunging at law enforcement with a knife, authorities said.

The revision came after investigators reviewed body-worn camera footage, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said at a news conference Wednesday morning.

“I understand and want to acknowledge the hurt and confusion that family and community members can experience when details of investigations change, and especially when they change in the very public way that this has occurred,” she said.

“At the time we gave that information, that was the best information that we had available,” Outlaw added.

Many questions remain about the killing, which occurred at around 12:30 p.m. on the 100 block of E. Willard Street, and authorities have declined to provide much detail, citing ongoing investigations.

Two officers in a marked police car spotted a driver of a Toyota Corolla acting erratically near the intersection of B and Westmoreland streets and followed the vehicle as it turned onto Lee Street, police said. Irizarry then allegedly entered Willard Street — a one-way, one-lane road — going the wrong way.

Authorities said he pulled into a parking spot, and the officers got out of their car. The officer who went to the passenger’s side alerted his partner that he had a weapon, and, according to police, the officer on the driver’s side opened fire as Irizarry turned toward him.

Irizarry suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to Temple University Hospital, where he died a short time later, investigators said.

A kitchen knife and a serrated folding blade were found inside the Corolla, detectives said.

Police personnel told reporters at the scene Monday that Irizarry had exited his car and lunged at the officers with one of the knives in the lead-up to the shooting.

Outlaw said she was not sure how that narrative spread, though she indicated that it came from law enforcement, not witnesses.

“Quite frankly, before all of us even responded to the scene, that was the information that was relayed to us,” she said. “So we’re trying to backtrack that as well to figure out exactly how that was related to leadership on the scene.”

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw speaks Wednesday, Aug. 16, at a news conference to provide an update on Monday’s fatal police shooting.Jack Tomczuk

Video clips posted on the kensington_outreach Instagram account appear to show officers carrying Irizarry out of his car, which lead relatives to question the initial story. Family members were set to gather Wednesday evening on Willard Street, after Metro went to print.

Both officers involved in the traffic stop had activated their body cameras. PPD leaders said only the District Attorney’s Office could release the footage to the public.

A DAO spokesperson confirmed that the office is investigating Monday’s shooting but declined to comment further.

The officer who opened fire was placed on restricted duty pending the outcome of an internal probe, which is standard PPD procedure for a police-involved shooting. He is a five-year veteran of the force assigned to the 24th Police District.

He has yet to be interviewed, in accordance with a policy that allows 72 hours before an officer has to speak with investigators, officials said. A PPD spokesperson said he will be publicly identified Thursday, unless the department detects threats against him or his family.

Outlaw said the DAO will examine whether any laws were broken, while the internal investigation will focus on if the officer followed the department’s policies.