(NEW YORK) — A judge dismissed the case against a former Philadelphia police officer who had been charged with murder in connection to the death of Eddie Irizarry.
Mark Dial had been charged earlier this month with murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, possessing an instrument of crime, simple assault, reckless endangerment of another person and official oppression, in the Aug. 14 shooting.
Judge Wendy Pew dismissed the case during a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, citing lack of evidence, court records show.
Originally, police had said that Irizarry, 27, was outside the car and was killed after lunging at police with a knife, but two days later the department acknowledged that he was shot while inside his car.
In announcing the charges, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner released footage from the body-worn cameras of Dial and a second officer who was at the scene, warning the video “will in some ways be traumatic.”
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said it “disagrees” with the judge’s decision.
“In keeping with our oath to seek justice, we will move to have all criminal charges, including Murder, reinstated against this defendant,” the office said in a statement following the hearing.
The office has since refiled the criminal complaint against Dial on all charges. The Court of Common Pleas has scheduled a hearing on the motion for Oct. 25.
The footage shows Dial getting out of his cruiser and approaching Irizarry’s car with his gun drawn. “I will f—— shoot you,” he says, before firing into the front driver’s seat where Irizarry was seated. Prior to shots being fired, an officer can be heard yelling at Irizarry to show his hands.
Dial fired six shots “at close range,” Krasner said.
Brian McMonagle, one of Dial’s attorneys, said they were “elated” at the judge’s decision and said the officer was acting in self-defense.
“We have said from the very beginning, this is a tragedy and not a crime,” he told reporters while leaving the courthouse on Tuesday.
McMonagle said evidence presented in court Tuesday — including testimony from Dial’s partner at the scene of the shooting — showed that the officers believed Irizarry raised what appeared to be a gun and “pointed it” at them. The officers later determined the object to be a knife, McMonagle said.
“Before there was a discharge in this case, the other officer shouted gun, and my officer thought what he clearly believed to be a gun before he fired,” McMonagle said. “There’s no doubt about the fact that he believed it was a gun.”
McMonagle had previously called the murder charge “abhorrent.”
“The undisputed facts of the case are that an individual made an illegal turn right in front of police officers, took off at a high rate of speed, and then tried to evade officers by going down a one-way street the wrong way, tried to hide from them,” McMonagle told reporters earlier this month.
“And when police officers ordered him to show his hands, he instead produced a weapon and pointed it at an armed police officer,” he continued.
Dial was initially released on $50,000 bail on Sept. 8, though his bail was revoked after prosecutors argued he was not eligible with a potential first-degree murder charge on the table.
The city’s police commissioner at the time, Danielle Outlaw, said on Aug. 23 that Dial would be terminated at the end of a 30-day suspension.
Outlaw, who has since left the department, said at the time that an administrative investigation found Dial violated department rules against “insubordination” by allegedly refusing to obey “proper orders from a superior officer.” She said the administrative investigation also accuses Dial of “conduct unbecoming” an officer for “failure to cooperate in any departmental investigation.”
Philadelphia Jim Kenney said in a statement Tuesday that he trusts the district attorney’s office “will do everything in its power to pursue justice and accountability.”
“My thoughts are with Eddie Irizarry’s family and loved ones today as they continue to seek justice and answers around his death,” he said, adding he remains confident that the police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau’s investigation into the shooting “will provide accountability and transparency following the police-involved shooting that took Mr. Irizzary’s life.”
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.