A judge in Philadelphia has dismissed murder and other charges against a police officer involved in a fatal shooting. Officer Mark Dial shot and killed 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry through the rolled-up driver’s side window during a confrontation. The judge agreed with the defense’s argument that Dial could have feared for his life because he believed Irizarry had a gun. Body camera footage showed Irizarry holding a knife near his right leg as police approached his stopped vehicle after a short pursuit. The ruling came after the courtroom watched approximately 20 minutes of the video footage.
The defense claimed that Dial acted in self-defense when he fired his weapon at close range. Irizarry’s relatives expressed shock and distress at the judge’s ruling, stating that police should not resort to fatal shootings for speeding or irrational behavior. Prosecutors have vowed to appeal the decision and reinstate the charges, including the murder count.
The bodycam footage revealed that Dial shot Irizarry about seven seconds after exiting the police vehicle and approaching the sedan. He fired a total of six rounds. Initially, police had stated that Dial shot Irizarry outside the vehicle after he “lunged at” the officers with a knife. However, the footage contradicted this account. Dial’s partner, Officer Michael Morris, testified that he saw Irizarry holding a knife with a black metal handle that could have been mistaken for a gun.
Dial, a five-year member of the force, had been suspended and was later terminated for refusing to cooperate with investigators. The defense argued that all charges, including manslaughter and official oppression, should be dropped. The judge agreed, citing a lack of evidence. Dial’s bail, which had been revoked, was reinstated, and he was released.
The case has sparked demands for a trial from Irizarry’s relatives and City Council Member Kendra Brooks. They expressed concern about another video showing a white police officer killing a person of color. Family attorney Shaka Johnson intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Dial and the city. Outgoing Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw acknowledged that the initial police narrative was misleading and stated that the footage clarified what actually happened.