A Philadelphia police officer was charged with murder after he fatally shot a 27-year-old man who was in his car at near point-blank range, prosecutors announced on Friday, weeks after top police officials announced that body camera footage of the killing showed a different account than what the officer initially described.
The officer, Mark Dial, will also be charged with voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment of another person and official oppression in the shooting death of Eddie Irizarry, prosecutors said at a news conference on Friday.
Mr. Dial fatally shot Mr. Irizarry around noon on Aug. 14 after what the police initially said was a car chase ending in Mr. Irizarry lunging at them with a knife. But police officials said two days later that body camera footage showed that the man was still in his car when the officer shot him. The fatal shooting and changing account sparked community anger and protests.
In an unusual move, Judge Christian DiCicco of Municipal Court set bail for Mr. Dial at $500,000. Defendants facing murder charges have typically been barred in Pennsylvania from being released while awaiting trial.
Family members have described Mr. Irizarry as a quiet man who liked to work on motorcycles and was being treated for serious mental illness, including schizophrenia. He had moved to Philadelphia about seven years ago from Puerto Rico and had difficulty understanding English, his family said.
Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia district attorney, said at a news conference on Friday that “the videos speak for themselves,” describing the body camera footage, which was released to the public on Friday.
“Firing six consecutive shots at close range at a vital part of the body of a person, under the law, is strongly supportive, together with other evidence, of all of these charges,” he said.
Mr. Dial, 27, a five-year veteran of the department who was suspended from the police department in August with intent to dismiss, turned himself in to the police on Friday morning. He was expected to be arraigned on Friday afternoon, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office said.
Shortly after noon on Aug. 14, two officers, Mr. Dial and his partner, whose name was not released, were sitting in a marked police car when they saw a Toyota Corolla they said was driving erratically in the Kensington neighborhood in northern Philadelphia. The officers then followed the car as it turned the wrong way down a one-way street and watched it pull into a parking spot midway down the block.
The footage, from cameras worn by Mr. Dial and his partner, shows the officers approaching the car from the passenger and driver sides.
As a police cruiser approaches Mr. Irizarry’s parked car, Mr. Dial’s body camera footage shows him racing out of the passenger seat and within seconds telling Mr. Irizarry, with an expletive, that he “will shoot” him and quickly firing his gun multiple times through the driver’s seat window. Mr. Dial calls in “shots fired, shots fired” to his radio, and Mr. Irizarry can be seen covered in blood, his head bobbing.
Mr. Dial instructs Mr. Irizarry to “keep those hands up right where I can see them” as Mr. Irizarry starts to slump over in his seat.
“Mark, we’re going to have to get him out,” Mr. Dial’s partner says.
Mr. Dial then drags Mr. Irizarry out of the driver’s seat and the second officer comes and assists him as they carry Mr. Irizarry into the police cruiser, where they shove him into the back seat. Neighbors can be seen watching from their front steps. Mr. Dial instructs the other officer to stay with Mr. Irizarry’s car “so no one grabs anything.”
When Mr. Dial arrives at a hospital, he appears to take Mr. Irizarry by the belt and pulls him out of the car. Hospital personnel can be heard saying, “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” what appeared to be in response to the way he pulled Mr. Irizarry, as the personnel load him onto a gurney and one member of the attending staff begins CPR.
Mr. Irizarry was pronounced dead at the hospital later that day.
Investigators found two knives in Mr. Irizarry’s car, a kitchen knife and a serrated folding knife, the police have said. Mr. Irizarry’s sister told The New York Times in an interview that her brother carried a pocketknife everywhere he went but “always as a tool, not as a weapon.”
Lawyers for Mr. Dial could not immediately be reached, but Brian McMonagle, a lawyer for Mr. Dial, told reporters outside a precinct building in Philadelphia on Friday that the decision to charge his client with murder was “appalling.”
“This decision today puts police officers in peril at a time when they’re dealing with perhaps the most violent time in our city’s history,” he said.
The case is the fourth in which Mr. Krasner, a progressive district attorney who has clashed with conservatives for years over his approach to crime, has charged a police officer involved in an on-duty shooting since he took office in 2018.