Charges against Philadelphia police officer Mark Dial who was accused of murder in the shooting death of 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry, were dropped on Tuesday by a judge.
A court dismissed the charges after a judge ruled that there was a lack of evidence to convict Dial even after viewing footage of the fatal shooting. Dial’s lawyers had put up the argument that their client acted in self-defense when the shots were fired at close range through the driver’s side window of Irizarry’s sedan on August 14, during a traffic stop.
Judge Wendy Pew was asked by the defense lawyer Brian McMonagle to drop all charges, including manslaughter, official oppression, and four other counts, according to The Associated Press. “He is firing while trying to take cover,” McMonagle said at a hearing Tuesday. He added that Dial was afraid for his life. “Every tragedy is not a crime.” It was also argued whether charges should at all have been brought against Dial given the evidence.
“I agree with you 100%,” the judge replied. Irizarry’s family members, have maintained that Dial deserves a long prison sentence, were present at the courtroom when the judge announced the verdict and were left shocked. They told The Associated Press they would urge District Attorney Larry Krasner to appeal.
Earlier this month, prosecutors released bodycam video of the shooting. In the video, Dial could be seen approaching a stopped vehicle before getting out. “I will f—ing shoot you,” a voice is heard telling the driver.
A portion of the video shows Dial approaching a stopped vehicle before getting out. A voice is then heard telling the driver, “I will f—ing shoot you.” Dial then fired six shots before the driver-side front door window shattered. He then opened up the door and pulled a bloodied Irizarry out into the street before putting him into a police vehicle which raced toward a hospital.
According to authorities, officers spotted Irizarry’s car traveling erratically around noon on August 14 and followed it for several blocks. Officers then approached as the driver turned the wrong way down a one-way street and stopped. Dial then shot Irizarry as the latter sat in his car.
The Philadelphia police department made the initial claims stating the officers made a traffic stop and shot a person outside the vehicle after he “lunged at” police with a knife. They later backtracked the comments.
Defense lawyers told the judge that Dial thought Irizarry had a gun and hence the shooting was justified. The bodycam footage shows the driver holding a knife by his right leg.