Police officer who ‘shot motorist dead inside car’ charged with murder

US News

A policeman who allegedly shot a motorist dead as he sat in his car has been charged with murder.

Body-camera footage played at a news conference showed officer Mark Dial and his partner driving slowly through a neighbourhood in Philadelphia on 14 August before pulling over.

The video appears to show Dial shooting Eddie Irizarry about seven seconds after getting out of a police SUV and walking over to his vehicle.

Six shots were fired.

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Mark Dial, left, enters the 1st District Police station in Philadelphia on Friday. Pic: AP
Mark Dial has been an officer for five years. Pic: AP

The video then shows Dial and his partner dragging Mr Irizarry’s limp, blood-covered body out of his car and into a police vehicle.

The 27-year-old was taken to hospital where his death from the gunshot wounds was ruled a homicide, Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner said.

Dial and his partner are said to have followed Mr Irizarry’s car for several blocks after spotting it driving erratically.

When Mr Irizarry apparently turned the wrong way down a one-way street and stopped, officers are said to have approached.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner looking at moment before officer Mark Dial shot Eddie Irizarry. Pic: AP
Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner showing the video at a news conference. Pic: AP

Police backtracked after initially claiming the officers made a traffic stop and shot a person outside the vehicle after he “lunged at” police with a knife.

Outgoing police commissioner Danielle Outlaw said a review of the officers’ body-worn cameras “made it very clear that what we initially reported was not actually what happened”.

Videos taken both from Dial’s camera and that of the second officer on the scene are “crucial evidence in the case and in many ways they speak for themselves”, Mr Krasner said.

Dial’s lawyer, Fortunato Perri Jr, said he would “vigorously” defend his client against the charges.

“Despite what has been portrayed to the media, the facts will unmistakably show that Mark Dial was legally justified in discharging his weapon while fearing for his life,” Mr Perri Jr said.

Dial has been an officer for five years.

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In addition to murder, he faces charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and official oppression, Mr Krasner said.

Not long after the shooting, Dial was suspended by Philadelphia Police with the intention to terminate his employment.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney is urging people to “remain peaceful in demonstrations”.

“I have watched the footage and I understand that it may provoke anger and upset in our communities,” he said in a statement.

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