(PHILADELPHIA) — A Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot a 27-year-old man while he was sitting in his car was suspended for 30 days and the city’s police commissioner said she intends to fire the officer at the end of the suspension.
The announcement by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw at a press conference on Wednesday came a day after the family of Eddie Irizarry Jr. released security video appearing to show Officer Mark Dial firing his weapon multiple times at Irizarry through the driver’s side window of the car within seconds of getting out of his patrol vehicle.
“Today, I am announcing that I’ve made the decision to utilize Commissioner’s Direct Action to suspend police officer Mark Dial with the intent to dismiss him at the end of 30 days due to administrative violations,” Outlaw said.
Specifically, Outlaw said 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.”
Efforts by ABC News to reach Dial have been unsuccessful. The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing police officers, has told ABC Philadelphia station WPVI that it is standing by Dial.
Commissioner Outlaw added at Wednesday’s press conference, “I want to make it clear that the investigation into the shooting itself continues along with the administrative investigation, in which there may be additional disciplinary charges in the event that Officer Dial violated additional PPD policies.”
Outlaw emphasized that the disciplinary action taken against Dial only concerns administrative violation and not the actions he took during the shooting.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who attended Outlaw’s news conference, said Irizarry’s shooting is “certainly a tragedy.”
“My heart breaks for the family and for the loss of Mr. Irizarry,” Kenney said. “Again, this is an ongoing investigation and I’m not going to have any comment on what I think or feel about what I’ve seen or know until this investigation is concluded.”
Kenney added, “The investigation is going to bring out whatever it brings out and we’ll move on from there.”
On Tuesday, Irizarry’s family released video footage taken from a Ring doorbell camera, described by a lawyer representing the family as proof that police officials allegedly fabricated the initial narrative they gave of how the fatal shooting unfolded.
Following the Aug. 14 officer-involved shooting, a Philadelphia police spokesperson originally said Irizarry was killed outside his car when he “lunged” at an officer with a knife. Two days after the shooting, Outlaw said at a news conference that police body-worn camera footage, which has not been made public, showed the initial report was inaccurate.
“We know that is that was a patent lie. It’s a fabrication. It did not happen that way,” Shaka Johnson, an attorney for the Irizarry family, said.
During Tuesday’s news conference, Johnson released the Ring doorbell camera obtained by his investigators. The footage appeared to show Irizarry driving the wrong way down a one-way street and parking as two officers in a marked SUV pulled up alongside him and one of them, identified as Dial, fired multiple shots through the closed driver’s side window of Irizarry’s car within seconds of getting out of his patrol vehicle.
The footage shows that Irizarry was still inside his car when he was shot and killed. Just prior to the shooting, both officers yelled at Irizarry to “show me your hands.” As he raced across the front of Irizarry’s car to the driver’s side window, Dial could be heard in the footage yelling to Irizarry, “Don’t move” and “I’ll f—— shoot you.”
Dial’s partner shouted, “He’s got a f—— knife,” prompting Dial to fire five times into the car and then a sixth time through the front windshield as he retreated, the footage shows.
Dial’s partner, who has not been identified by the police department, also drew his gun when he got out of his patrol car but never fired a shot, according to police officials.
The video then shows Dial and his partner pulling the mortally wounded Irizarry from his vehicle and carrying him to their patrol vehicle to be rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Johnson alleged the initial narrative given by a Philadelphia police spokesperson was an “intentional misleading of the public about what happened.”
He alleged that police officials attempted to “corrupt the court of public opinion.”
Johnson also said that there was no police chase as initially reported by the police spokesperson and noted that Dial and his partner did not activate their lights and siren when they followed Irizarry, purportedly for driving erratically, and pulled up alongside his car.
“We’re asking for full transparency from the Philadelphia Police Department and we’ve not gotten it thus far,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he and the family are asking the police department to release the police body-camera footage of the shooting. He said the city solicitor had invited Irizarry’s family members to view the video on Friday in private, but the invitation was rescinded by the Philadelphia District Attorney, who cited the ongoing investigation.
On Aug. 16, two days after the shooting, Outlaw held a news conference to clarify the initial report, saying, “The body-worn camera footage made it very clear that what we initially reported was not actually what happened.”
Outlaw conceded that Irizarry remained inside his vehicle throughout the incident and never “lunged” at an officer with a knife.
Police officials said they found two knives in Irizarry’s car, which they described as a “kitchen-style knife” and a “serrated folding knife.” But Outlaw has declined to say if Irizarry had a knife in his hand when he was shot.
Johnson said Irizarry’s father, Eddie Irizarry Sr., who also attended Tuesday’s news conference, gave his son the folding knife, which the younger Irizarry used in his job as a mechanic to strip wire.
He called Outlaw’s correction about the shooting akin to “saying you’re sorry after you were caught.”
“This officer really took someone very special to us and I just want him to pay for what he did,” Irizarry’s aunt, Zoraida Garcia, said during Tuesday’s news conference.
Johnson said Irizarry, a native of Puerto Rico, could not speak English and suffered from schizophrenia.
On Wednesday, Outlaw, again, addressed the inaccuracies in the initial statement police gave of the shooting.
“The police department takes accuracy and transparency, and incident reporting very seriously. We are investigating the inaccuracies in the initial report of this incident and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken if warranted upon the conclusion of that investigation,” Outlaw said.
She went on to say, “I completely understand that today’s announcement as well as the press briefing held yesterday by the Irizarrys’ counsel will give rise to additional questions. I must again reiterate that our primary duty is to safeguard the integrity of the ongoing investigation, a task currently undertaken by the District Attorney’s Office.”
Robert Boyce, a retired chief of detectives for the New York Police Department, said Wednesday after viewing the video released by the Irizarry family that he is not surprised by Outlaw’s decision to suspend Dial with the intent of dismissing him.
Boyce said Dial could also face criminal charges, possibly manslaughter.
“He’s going to have to answer to somebody,” Boyce said of Dial, alleging the officer’s conduct during the shooting was “reckless.”
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