THE THIN BLUE LINE
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.
WARNING: THE VIDEO IS NOT PRETTY
The charges mark the latest development in the controversial case, which has sparked protests and led some to question the Police Department’s handling of the incident because officials initially provided an inaccurate account of what happened. The day of the crime, police said Irizarry had lunged at Dial while holding a knife, causing the officer to fire his gun. But video later showed that Irizarry, 27, had been sitting in his car with a knife in his hand when Dial opened fire just seconds after arriving on the scene.
The footage showed that Irizarry had rolled his car windows up and did not move from his seat, Shaka Johnson, a lawyer for Irizarry’s family said, describing the video. Irizarry can be seen holding a three-inch folded pocket knife by the side of his knee with the blade open, Johnson said. Irizarry did not raise the knife at any point, he said.
Police initially said that when the officers attempted to pull him over, Irizarry fled in his gold Toyota Corolla. Police said the officers followed him south until he stopped on East Willard Street. As officers approached the stopped car, Irizarry stepped out with a knife, police said. Officials said the officers gave “multiple commands” for him to drop the weapon, but he “lunged” at them, and one officer then shot him multiple times. About 30 hours later, after officials reviewed the body camera footage amid questions from Irizarry’s family and reporters, police retracted that narrative. In a new version, they said Irizarry never lunged at police with a knife, and it was unclear if he was even holding one.
Dial, in purple, turning himself in
“When you look at this video, I want you to ask yourselves, look at it critically and ask yourselves, how, based on what you will soon see, could the narrative have ever been, this was a police chase? How could Ms. Reilly have ever taken to the podium as a spokesperson for the police department and said that Mr. Irizarry, Eddie, got out of that vehicle, wielded a knife, and I believe I heard Ms. Jasmine Reilly say, ‘officers gave commands to drop the knife whilst Eddie was outside of the vehicle. He did not do that. He in fact lunged at police officers and then was shot.’ We know that that is a patent lie. It is a fabrication. It did not happen that way at all,” Johnson said.
Last week, Johnson said the police department’s initial report wasn’t a case of misinformation, but rather “conspiracy. This from the very beginning has been an onslaught of lies and fairy tales,” family attorney Johnson said.
“Officer Mark Dial has the full support of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 as our attorneys continue to gather all the facts surrounding this tragic incident,” McNesby wrote. “We ask the public to reserve judgement until all the evidence is presented during trial. Like any other individual facing allegations, Officer Dial is presumed innocent and looks forward to helping his attorneys prepare a vigorous defense against these serious criminal charges.”