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    Philadelphia officer charged with fatal shooting of motorist


    Sep 9, 2023

    PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia police officer has been charged with murder after footage showed him fatally shooting a 27-year-old motorist in his car last month.

    Eddie Irizarry was killed while sitting in the driver’s seat of his vehicle holding a knife, say prosecutors.

    Body camera video of the incident shows two officers pulling over Irizarry for a driving infraction, before one of them fires multiple shots at him.

    The officer, Mark Dial, 27, turned himself in to police on Friday morning.

    Two days after the Aug. 14 shooting, police changed their initial statement on the shooting. They originally said Irizarry had lunged at police from outside his vehicle while holding a knife.

    But body camera footage released by Philadelphia prosecutors on Friday clearly shows Irizarry was sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle when the officer opened fire.

    Police said investigators are working to determine how the false account of the incident emerged.

    On Friday, a lawyer for Dial said his client had opened fire because he thought he saw Irizarry holding a gun.

    “Fearing that he was going to be the next police officer killed in the streets of Philadelphia, he fired,” attorney Brian McMonagle said.

    He added that Dial intends to fight the murder charge.

    Prosecutors said Irizarry was holding “a small, open folding knife against his thigh”, and that his window was rolled up.

    Irizarry had parked his Toyota Corolla on a road in Kensington, a neighborhood of Philadelphia, after police said they stopped him for turning on the street in the wrong direction. It was midday.

    Dial and his partner pulled up next to him in a police vehicle.

    The officer is heard in the police body camera footage shouting “show your hands” at Irizarry before threatening to shoot him.

    Around five seconds later, the officer fires multiple shots at Irizarry, who was still sitting in the driver’s seat.

    After the shots were fired, Dial’s partner is heard saying: “Mark, hold on. Mark, stop.”

    The video shows the two officers pulling an unresponsive Irizarry out of his car and into the backseat of a marked police vehicle. They drive him to hospital.

    Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said on Friday the family of Irizarry had seen the video last week, and wished it to be made public.

    Irizarry’s aunt, Zoraida Garcia, told reporters at a protest last week that the clip was “horrible”.

    Irizarry’s family said he had moved to the area from Puerto Rico seven years ago, and was working as a mechanic. He was reportedly being treated for schizophrenia.

    The family has said that they intend to sue both the city of Philadelphia and the officer for wrongful death.

    Dial, who has been an officer for five years, was suspended for 30 days after the incident, accused of insubordination.

    According to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, the officer refused to cooperate with an investigation into the shooting.

    Irizarry’s death has angered many in the Philadelphia community, who have held protests.

    After the footage was released, Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement: “We ask that the public remain peaceful in demonstrations and calls for accountability.”

    The union representing Philadelphia police officers asked people “to reserve judgment until all the evidence is presented during trial”.

    Dial was arraigned on Friday afternoon and released on $500,000 (£400,000) bail. He is due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 26. — BBC

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