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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Bail revoked, Pa. police officer sent to jail over shooting of motorist

By Ellie Rushing, The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia judge on Tuesday revoked bail for Philadelphia Police officer Mark Dial, who’s accused of murder in the fatal shooting of Eddie Irizarry during a traffic stop, sending him to jail until his next hearing.

Prosecutors had argued last week that a bail magistrate’s decision to grant Dial bail when he was charged with first-degree murder was inconsistent with the Pennsylvania Constitution. That point held as the basis of their argument to Common Pleas Court Judge Lillian Ransom again Tuesday afternoon.

“This is a narrow and strictly legal issue,” said Assistant District Attorney Lyandra Retacco. “We’re looking for consistency.”

Typically, defendants charged with first-degree murder are held in jail without bail — something that prosecutors and legal experts say has been in line with a traditional reading of the Pennsylvania Constitution for years.

But in an unusual move, when Dial was charged on Sept. 8, Municipal Court Judge Christian DiCicco set Dial’s bail at $500,000. Almost immediately, the police union posted the necessary $50,000 — 10% of the total bail — and Dial was released.

Dial’s lawyers argued Tuesday — as they did at his initial bail hearing — that Dial was being overcharged. Attorney Brian McMonagle pointed to the fact that when police submitted an initial affidavit of probable cause for Dial’s arrest, they recommended that he face a lead offense of voluntary manslaughter — not first-degree murder.

“This has never been a case of first-degree murder,” McMonagle said.

He emphasized a state Supreme Court case from 2021 that established limited circumstances under which murder defendants could argue for bail, and said that prosecutors had not met the burden of proof required to support the charges and justify denial of bail.

Judge Ransom ultimately agreed with prosecutors and ordered bail to be revoked. She did not explain her decision, saying only that she appreciated both attorneys’ arguments and that the issue can be revisited at Dial’s preliminary hearing next week.

Dial, 27, was charged this month with first-degree murder, aggravated assault and related crimes after he shot Irizarry at near point-blank range on Aug. 14. Irizarry had been seated in his car in Kensington when officers approached and saw he was holding a knife. Within seconds, Dial fired.

Philadelphia police shooting

Nelson Garcia, 65, grandfather of Eddie Irizarry, holds a photo of the man killed by police. (The Philadelphia Inquirer, TNS, file)TNS

Irizarry’s family had been pushing for Dial to face charges for weeks, and were upset that he had been released on bail.

“What makes him exempt to follow the rules and laws like everyone else? His badge?” Irizarry’s aunt, Ana Cintron said outside the courthouse Tuesday. “Today, justice is was made — for now — and he is behind bars, and we are thankful and happy that people actually listened to us.”

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