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News / Nation & World

Philadelphia officer to contest murder charges over fatal shooting during traffic stop

By Associated Press
Published: September 26, 2023, 8:16am

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Lawyers for a Philadelphia police officer who shot and killed a driver will press to have murder and other charges lodged against him dismissed when the jailed officer appears in court for a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Officer Mark Dial is also charged with manslaughter, official oppression and four other counts in connection with the Aug. 14 death of 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry. Dial’s bail was revoked earlier this month after prosecutors argued the charges made him ineligible for release.

Police bodycam footage shows Dial firing his weapon at close range through the driver’s side window of Irizarry’s sedan during a vehicle stop. Dial shot Irizarry about seven seconds after getting out of a police SUV and walking over to his car, the video showed. He fired a total of six rounds.

Defense lawyers call the shooting justified. They said the officer, also 27, thought Irizarry had a gun. The bodycam footage shows the driver holding a knife by his right leg.

“When police officers ordered him to show his hands, he instead produced a weapon and pointed it at an armed police officer,” lawyer Brian McMonagle told reporters earlier this month. “In no world (are) those facts murder.”

District Attorney Larry Krasner has called the videos “crucial evidence in the case,” saying they “speak for themselves.”

The police department had to backtrack from initial statements that said Dial shot the driver outside the vehicle after he “lunged at” police with a knife. Dial, a five-year veteran of the force, was suspended with the intent to dismiss after officials said he refused to cooperate with investigators.

Irizarry’s family has said that Dial deserves a long prison sentence.

Police officials say the noontime pursuit began when officers saw the vehicle being driven erratically and turning the wrong way down a one-way street before stopping.