Updated Sep 26, 2023 - News

Charges refiled against Philadelphia cop in Eddie Irizarry shooting

Photo illustration of a Philadelphia police cruiser with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office is refiling charges against police officer Mark Dial in the fatal shooting of Eddie Irizarry after a judge dismissed them on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Irizarry's death has outraged community members and the 27-year-old's family, who are demanding accountability and justice in the case that's been the subject of conflicting police accounts.

Driving the news: The DA's office filed Tuesday afternoon to reinstate charges against Dial shortly after a judge ruled that prosecutors hadn't shown enough evidence that the officer committed a crime in the Aug. 14 shooting, CBS reports.

  • During Tuesday's preliminary hearing, Judge Wendy Pew agreed with the defense lawyers, who argued Dial feared for his life when he shot Irizarry as he was sitting inside his car in Kensington.

Catch up fast: Dial's charges include murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.

  • Prosecutors have said that Irizarry was holding a small folding knife near his thigh but wasn't a threat to officers when Dial opened fire within seconds of arriving on the scene.
  • But Dial's attorneys argued Tuesday that the officer believed Irizarry was armed with a gun and shot him in self-defense.

What they're saying: "This is an example that a tragedy doesn't always equal a crime," Fortunato Perri, one of Dial's attorneys, tells Axios. "The evidence presented by the prosecutor clearly supported Mr. Dial's reasonable belief that Mr. Irizarry was pointing a firearm at him during the stop."

  • Mayor Jim Kenney said that the internal affairs investigation of Dial is ongoing and he's confident that "process will provide accountability and transparency" for Irizarry's death.

Details: Dial's partner, officer Michael Morris, testified at the preliminary hearing that officers began following Irizarry because he was driving erratically and parked the wrong way on East Willard Street.

  • He said that he "screamed" that Irizarry had a knife, but that the handle of the knife could've been mistaken for a gun, per 6ABC.

Between the lines: Dial's case marks the fourth time District Attorney Larry Krasner has charged an officer in an on-duty shooting since he took office in 2018, per the Inquirer.

Reality check: It's rare for a judge to toss out charges at a preliminary hearing, but not "unheard of," says Kalfani Turè, a former Georgia police officer and criminal justice professor at Widener University.

Turè tells Axios he believes many Philadelphians will view Pew's decision as a "miscarriage of justice." "You would have to convince people with vision that what they saw on the videotape was not what they saw," he says of the body camera footage.

  • "There's a lot of weariness among young folks who thought that the death of [Michael] Brown, the death of Freddie Gray, the death of Breonna Taylor … would have caused there to be sufficient reform," Turè adds. "It's easy for young folks who were at the forefront of this movement to not have the endurance, to not understand that this is a long fight."

What we're watching: A Philadelphia police spokesperson declined to comment if Dial, who was suspended from the force with the intent to dismiss in August, will be reinstated, citing the ongoing criminal case and internal affairs investigation.

  • Dial's next court appearance is slated for Oct. 25, per CBS.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add details about the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office refiling charges against Dial.

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