Police officer who shot driver sitting in car is being suspended, will be fired, commissioner says

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia's police commissioner says a police officer who shot and killed a driver who was sitting in his car last week in north Philadelphia is being suspended and will be fired.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Wednesday that Officer Mark Dial will be suspended with intent to dismiss him in 30 days for refusing to cooperate in the investigation of the Aug. 14 shooting death of 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry.

She cited administrative violations of insubordination, refusal to promptly obey proper orders from a superior officer and a conduct unbecoming violation for "failure to cooperate in any departmental investigation." Outlaw said the investigation into the shooting itself continues.

Irizarry was shot as he sat in his car by Dial after officers spotted a car being driven erratically shortly before 12:30 p.m. Aug. 14 and followed it for several blocks, then approached as the driver turned the wrong way down a one-way street and stopped, police said. Dial has been on the force for five years.

Police said Dial was approaching the passenger’s side and warned the other officer, who was approaching the driver’s side, that the driver had a weapon. “As the male turned” toward that officer, the officer fired multiple times into the vehicle, police said in a statement the night after the shooting that changed their initial account of events.

Police originally said the officers made a traffic stop and shot a person outside the vehicle after he “lunged at” police with a knife. Outlaw said a review of the officers’ body-worn cameras “made it very clear that what we initially reported was not actually what happened.”

Police said they are trying to determine the source of the initial erroneous version, which an official earlier said was called into police radio and appeared to have come from “an internal source.” Outlaw said that probe may result in disciplinary action if warranted.

Police in their revised account said two knives “were observed inside the vehicle” but declined to say whether the driver was holding a weapon or was ordered to drop one. A detective said one appeared to be a “kitchen-style knife” and the other a “serrated folding knife.”

Attorney Fortunato Perri Jr., who represents the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said Dial “has the full support of the Fraternal Order of Police as we continue to review the facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic incident,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Family attorney Shaka Johnson called the initial narrative “an intentional misleading of the public” and said he intended to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer and the city, the newspaper reported.

Police haven't released the body-worn camera footage of the two officers, saying that is up to the district attorney since it is considered evidence in that office's investigation. That probe aims to determine whether officers followed the law while the police department's probe is to determine whether they followed department policies and procedures.

The Philadelphia Citizens Police Oversight Commission on Tuesday night recommended that the officer be terminated, saying the agency “was created for moments such as this.”

“It is our responsibility to hold our police department accountable and also amplify the voices of the community,” the commission said in a statement.

Mayor Jim Kenney called the case “a tragedy” and said his “heart breaks for the family and for the loss of Mr. Irizarry," but declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation.