September 26, 2023
All charges against Philadelphia police officer Mark Dial, who fatally shot Eddie Irizarry during a traffic stop in Kensington last month, were dismissed Tuesday by a municipal court judge. But District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office plans to appeal the decision.
Judge Wendy L. Pew said Dial's actions were justifiable because he was reacting to a potential threat to his safety – and his partner's – when he fired several shots at Irizarry on Aug. 14, according to court documents.
Pew and other people present in the courtroom during the preliminary hearing viewed 20 minutes of surveillance and body camera footage before Pew made her decision.
Dial's patrol partner Michael Morris testified during the hearing that Irizarry was holding a knife that the officers initially mistook for a firearm, the Associated Press reported.
"Applying laws to facts is what you must do in a courtroom. And in this courtroom today, there was justice," Dial's attorney Brian McMonagle said. "This should have never been charged as a crime, and we're elated that Mark's coming home to his family."
Krasner said prosecutors from the Special Investigations Unit will file an appeal with the intent to have all charges reinstated.
A five-year veteran of the police department, Dial was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 23 with the intent to be fired after 30 days. Former Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Dial had failed to cooperate in a departmental investigation.
On Sept. 8, Dial was charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and official oppression. He entered and left jail on the same day, as the police union posted 10% of his $500,000 bail. Dial's bail was revoked 11 days later after Krasner filed a motion stating that granting him bail was inconsistent with the state constitution. (People facing first-degree murder charges are not typically given bail.) He then reentered jail but will now be released on Tuesday.
Because there are ongoing criminal proceedings and an internal affairs investigation, Philadelphia Police said it could not comment on Dial's status with the department moving forward.
Dial shot Irizarry, 27, while he was sitting in his Toyota Corolla. He had been pulled over for driving erratically near B Street and Eric Avenue in Kensington.
Police initially said Irizarry had "lunged" at the officers with a knife before he was shot. Two days later, Outlaw said that account was not accurate.
"We have nothing to hide here," Outlaw said last month. "We make mistakes. Unfortunately, the information that was released had pretty dire consequences."
In audio from surveillance footage taken near the scene, one of the officers can be heard saying, "He's got a f***ing knife."
Dial said "I will f***ing shoot you" before firing his gun.
Attorney Shaka Johnson, who represents Irizarry's family, said that the man had a pocket knife but did not raise it towards the officers. Police said two knives were recovered from the Toyota.
This is a developing story. Check back for more details.