2 Philly Officers Sued Over Killing After 1 Beat Murder Rap

By P.J. D'Annunzio | September 28, 2023, 5:43 PM EDT ·

Fresh off of evading murder charges, Philadelphia Police Officer Mark Dial has been sued along with his partner for wrongful death by the family of Eddie Irizarry, who was shot and killed by Dial while sitting in his car in August.

Filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday — the day after a city judge dismissed all charges against Dial — the Irizarry family's lawsuit said Dial and his partner, Officer Michael Morris, were individually liable for Irizarry's death.

"This action arises out of the unauthorized, illegal, and unjustified use of force by the defendants, two Philadelphia police officers, one of whom fatally shot the decedent at point blank range while he was seated in his vehicle, with his windows up and his doors locked, presenting no threat of harm, certainly not imminent bodily harm to the defendants [or] any other person," the complaint said. "Plaintiff's decedent tragically lost his life as a result of an interaction with the defendant police officers after committing the apparently capital offense of 'driving erratically.'"

The three-count complaint sets out causes of action for assault and battery, wrongful death and survival action.

One of the family's attorneys, Kevin O'Brien, told Law360 on Thursday that a separate civil rights suit against the city is likely to be filed in federal court before long.

Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Wendy L. Pew dismissed all charges against Dial on Tuesday. The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has since refiled the charges against him.

O'Brien said the lack of a criminal conviction against Dial won't affect the lawsuit against him and Morris. "It's going to have no impact on the way we present our civil case," he said.

"If a criminal defendant is convicted of conduct in a criminal case that mirrors the conduct in a civil case, that may essentially remove their ability to defend themselves in the civil case, but the inverse is not true," O'Brien said.

A criminal conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas civil liability is proved through a preponderance of the evidence, he said.

Irizarry was shot to death by Dial on Aug. 14 after the former was pulled over during a traffic stop. The plaintiffs alleged that he presented no threat to the officers and that the only crime he committed was driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

The complaint noted that Irizarry had a small pocket knife in his hand at the time of the shooting, which he appeared to be trying to hide between the seats of his vehicle.

Dial shot Irizarry five times at "point blank range," before Irizarry had "any opportunity whatsoever" to comply with any law enforcement command, the suit said.

The Philadelphia Police Department declined to comment on Thursday.

An attorney representing Dial in the criminal case declined to comment. Morris was unable to be reached through publicly listed phone numbers.

Attorney information for the department and the two officers was not immediately available.

The Irizarry family is represented by Kevin O'Brien of Stampone O'Brien Dilsheimer PC.

The case is Wanda Ivales Garcia v. P/O Mark Dial et al., case number 230902840, in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

--Editing by Rich Mills.

Update: This story has been updated to show Dial's attorney declined to comment and Morris could not be reached. 

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