Family, supporters of Eddie Irizarry march after judge dismisses charges against Philly officer who killed him
About 100 supporters of Eddie Irizarry marched around Center City to protest a Philadelphia judge’s earlier decision to dismiss all charges — including murder — against former Officer Mark Dial.
As drizzle fell Tuesday evening, around 100 supporters of Eddie Irizarry gathered outside City Hall to protest a Philadelphia judge’s earlier decision to dismiss all charges — including murder — against former city Police Officer Mark Dial, who shot and killed Irizarry during a traffic stop in Kensington last month.
The protesters chanted “no good cops in a racist system” as the crowd grew. A short time later, they marched around Center City to decry Municipal Court Judge Wendy L. Pew’s decision. “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell,” the marchers proclaimed.
Irizarry’s father and namesake, Eddie Irizarry, his aunt Zoraida Garcia, and other family members joined the march just before the crowd reached the Juanita Kidd Stout Criminal Justice Center, where just hours earlier the judge had dismissed all charges against Dial.
In front of the Philadelphia criminal court, Maria Irizarry, Irizarry’s sister, thanked all those who came to support her brother and her family, vowing to continue the fight for justice and saying it took the judge a “ second” to agree with Dial’s lawyers.
Irizarry’s father was angry when the judge issued the ruling, he said.
”It was a brutality. If it were one of her kids, what do you think she would’ve done?” he said in Spanish.
Irizarry’s father said he was tired of hearing his son characterized as a threat and a bad person.
”I don’t have kids that are delinquents,” he said.
He contested Pew and Dial’s lawyers agreeing that his son was perceived as a threat.
”How are you going to feel threatened if he didn’t raise the knife at any moment?”
Irizarry hoped that a different judge “who knows the law” would hear the District Attorney’s appeal to refile charges.
The protest and march was organized by the Philadelphia branch of Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Talia Giles, with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, told the crowd Irizarry’s death was not an isolated incident.
”The entire system is guilty as hell,” she said. “It’s not just a few bad apples.”
After a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning, Pew ruled that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to show that Dial fatally shooting Irizarry while on-duty last month was a crime. She agreed with Dial’s lawyers that he was justified in shooting Irizarry, and that he and his partner were reacting to a situation in which they believed Irizarry was a potential threat to them.
The dismissal of the charges was met with praise by Dial’s supporters, including more than a dozen police officers who gathered in the courtroom, and outrage by Irizarry’s family.
“You know, it proved today that a police officer can kill somebody and get away with murder. That’s what it proved today,” Zoraida Garcia, Irizarry’s aunt, said after the judge’s ruling.
The District Attorney’s Office appealed the decision Tuesday afternoon, in an attempt to refile all the charges against Dial.
On Aug. 14, Dial, 27, a five-year veteran of the force, shot and killed Irizarry, 27, as Irizarry sat in his car during a traffic stop in Kensington. Police initially said Irizarry had gotten out of the car and lunged at Dial with a knife, leading the officer to shoot him.
But surveillance and body-worn camera footage showed that the initial account was not accurate.
Irizarry was sitting in his car with the windows rolled up and a knife in his hand when Dial opened fire within just seconds of getting out of his police vehicle.