Family of Eddie Irizarry sues police involved in deadly traffic stop

Former police officer Mark Dial (centre) making his way to court for his bail hearing (Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
Former police officer Mark Dial (centre) making his way to court for his bail hearing (Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

The family of Eddie Irizarry, who was shot and killed by police in Philadelphia in August, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer responsible, as well as the officer’s partner.

The family filed the complaint on Wednesday in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas against Mark Dial and his partner officer, Michael Morris.

Mr Irizarry, 27, was shot and killed after he was pulled over by police on 14 August after claims that he was driving erratically in the Kensington section of the city.

The lawsuit refutes various claims by police on the day of the incident, such as allegations that Mr Irizarry was driving on the wrong side of the road and had a knife and “lunged at” the officers before he was shot.

The denied claims were backed up by surveillance footage that was caught on both Mr Dial’s body cam and doorbell cameras in the area.

Instead, the lawsuit claims that Mr Irizarry never stepped out of his car, did not roll down his window or speak to the officers before he was killed, as they had alleged.

The police later admitted that the knife accusation was false.

The lawsuit is seeking $150,000 in damages and claims that Mr Irizarry was “inexplicably shot and killed … when he posed no threat of bodily harm, injury or death to anyone,.

The doorbell video shows Mr Irixarry turning down a one-way street in his car and knocking over some traffic cones, but then coming to a stop.

Moments later, police pull up alongside the vehicle, where Mr Dial can be seen moving to the driver’s side with his gun drawn.

Maria Irizarry, a sister of the victim, holding up a sign to protest her brother’s killing (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Maria Irizarry, a sister of the victim, holding up a sign to protest her brother’s killing (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

He said, “Show us your hands” several times [and] “I will f**king shoot you,” according to the lawsuit. Seconds later, he fires six times then runs back to his patrol car.

The video then showed Mr Dial and a second officer dragging Mr Irizarry’s body from his vehicle and placing him in their patrol car.

Mr Irizarry was carrying a pocket knife at the time of his death, but the lawsuit states he “made no threatening motions or actions towards anyone.”

Mr Morris, Mr Dial’s partner, testified on Tuesday that he saw the victim holding a handle of a knife which looked like a gun and was raising it as the officers were approaching the car.

Eddie Irizarry was shot and killed in August (GoFundme)
Eddie Irizarry was shot and killed in August (GoFundme)

Fortunato Perri Jr., an attorney for Mr Dial, said in a statement earlier this week that “despite what has been portrayed to the media, the facts will unmistakably show that Officer Mark Dial was legally justified in discharging his weapon while fearing for his life.”

Mr Dial also recently had murder and voluntary manslaughter charges in the case dismissed, yet they were refiled by Tuesday afternoon by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office in a higher court.

Before the charges were refiled, hundreds of Philadelphia residents took to the streets, flooding the area with signs with Mr Irizarry’s name on them.

Said Maria Irizarry, Mr Irizarry’s sister: “We’re going to keep fighting for my brother.”

A hearing for Mr Dial has been set for 25 October.