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Philadelphia police commissioner intends to fire officer involved in fatal shooting during a traffic stop

by Johnson Jr.
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Originally Published: 23 AUG 23 13:18 ET

Updated: 23 AUG 23 14:30 ET

By Ray Sanchez, Jessica Xing and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN

(CNN) — Philadelphia’s police commissioner on Wednesday said she intends to fire the officer who fatally shot a 27-year-old man in an encounter in which video contradicted the initial account provided by police.

Officer Mark Dial, who discharged his weapon during a traffic stop, had been placed on restricted leave after the August 14 shooting that killed Eddie Irizarry.

Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said she has suspended Dial with the intent to dismiss him at the end of 30 days.

Outlaw cited violations of the department’s disciplinary code, including insubordination, refusal to obey proper orders from a superior officer, and conduct unbecoming for failure to cooperate in a departmental investigation.

“We have nothing to hide here,” Outlaw said at a news conference. “We make mistakes. We did say out there on the scene that this was preliminary information. Unfortunately, the information that was released has pretty dire consequences in establishing and framing a narrative that quite frankly was not true.”

CNN had reached out to Dial’s attorney for comment. The police union referred questions to the officer’s attorney.

Outlaw did not comment on the criminal investigation.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney also declined to comment on the investigation but expressed his condolences to Irizarry’s family.

“This is certainly a tragedy and my heart breaks for the family and the loss of Mr. Irizarry,” said Kenney, adding that the city has made “tremendous training improvement in our police academy and ongoing training.”

There could be additional disciplinary charges

Police initially said officers ordered Irizarry to drop a weapon multiple times while he was outside his vehicle.

But Outlaw later said the shooting occurred while the man was inside the vehicle, citing body-worn camera footage that “made it very clear what we initially reported was not actually what happened.”

Outlaw said Wednesday the department is “investigating the inaccuracies in the initial report of this incident and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken if warranted.”

“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.”

The Philadelphia district attorney’s special investigations unit is reviewing the shooting, saying in a statement Tuesday that it “intends to keep its sworn obligation to seek justice for all those involved in the fatal shooting of Mr. Irizarry, as well as for all those Philadelphians who are not directly involved but who care deeply about fairness, justice, and independence.”

Surveillance video provided by a local resident to the Irizarry family showed Irizarry pulling into a parking spot, running over orange traffic cones, and stopping before a police vehicle pulled up to the passenger side of his car a few seconds later on a narrow residential street.

An officer is seen in the video getting out of the passenger side of the patrol vehicle and pulling out a firearm from his belt as he crosses the front of the patrol vehicle and heads toward Irizarry’s car. The officer appears to yell what sounds like, “Show us your hands!” and then “Show me your hands” twice.

About five seconds later, the officer appeared to fire his gun six times, with at least one shot striking Irizarry’s front windshield. While firing his weapon, the officer is heard shouting what sounds like, “Drop the knife!”

As the officer runs over toward Irizarry in the driver’s seat, Irizarry is seen pulling up the door window before the officer shoots inside his vehicle, according to the video.

The officers responding to the traffic stop then appeared to try to get into Irizarry’s vehicle but the doors were locked. The officers managed to open the car and drag Irizarry out and place him into the patrol car.

Family has not seen body-camera footage, lawyer says

Irizarry family attorney Shaka Johnson told reporters Tuesday that the initial police account that the man was outside the car and lunging at officers “didn’t really comport with what our eyes saw from the very beginning” in the surveillance video.

“What about what you just saw could ever be confused as ‘He got out of the car and lunged at police officers’? Not a single thing,” Johnson told reporters.

Johnson said the City Solicitor’s Office had invited Irizarry’s family to privately watch the body-worn camera footage last Friday but the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office rescinded that offer, citing an ongoing investigation.

The attorney said that he will turn over the surveillance footage to all law enforcement agencies investigating the fatal shooting.

Law enforcement has not reached out to Irizarry’s family to provide any update on the investigation or to provide them further details on the case, Johnson said.

Jane Roh, a spokesperson for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, disputed that claim, saying the office has been in constant contact with Irizarry’s family through their attorney and looked forward to meeting them in person.

In an interview with CNN last week, Irizarry’s aunt, Zoraida Garcia, said the family believes there may have been a language barrier between Irizarry and the police because he did not speak English well. He had moved from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia seven years ago, she said.

The information that Irizarry lunged at the officer was initially called in on police radio, Chief of Detectives Christine Coulter has said.

But an updated police timeline released after the shooting said Irizarry was in the car when an officer shot multiple times into the vehicle.

The incident began when two officers saw a man driving erratically and going the wrong way down a one-way street, according to police.

When the man pulled into a parking spot, two officers approached the vehicle, Outlaw said.

One officer warned the other the man had a weapon, then the other officer shot multiple times into the car, according to police.

Two knives were found inside the car, Outlaw said, though she could not confirm whether Irizarry was holding the knives or whether a warning was given before the officer shot into the car.

The-CNN-Wire
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