PLBC, PLLC say criminal justice system failed Irizarry family; encouraged by charges being refiled

HARRISBURG, Sept. 26 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and Pennsylvania Latino Caucus said they are disappointed to learn that a Philadelphia judge on Tuesday dismissed all charges against former police officer Mark Dial for his involvement in the shooting death of Eddie Irizarry last month but are encouraged to see that charges have been re-filed by the District Attorney’s office.

“Yet again, another crime victim, another child, another sibling, another human being let down by our criminal justice system. It is our duty to stand together and demand justice for the family of Eddie Irizarry; they deserve nothing less,” said state Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Latino Caucus.

“We are deeply disappointed by this decision. Dial, a former police officer, fired his gun six times at close range. The fact that all charges were dropped is enraging. We demand accountability and transparency in this process. This is not a closed case,” said state Rep. Jose Giral, D-Phila., who represents the district where the killing occurred. “We keep talking about the wrongful use of deadly force by the police, and this is an unfortunate example of that. We are on the victim’s family’s side; we are on the side of justice.”

“Make no mistake, we are not surprised by this failure to deliver justice to the Irizarry family. We know that the criminal justice system is, and has always been, unfair to, and stacked against, Black and Latino people. This is another example of that,” said state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. “However, we will not sit idle, and we never have, because criminal justice reform is a continuous effort and does not only start up when there is another horrific viral video.”

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police, the Pennsylvania House passed substantive criminal justice reform legislation following an act of civil disobedience in the House chambers by members of the PLBC.

“We are again pursuing legislation to fix this broken criminal justice system,” Bullock said. “Justice and law in this country, as it currently stands, is not held accountable to the people. It is only accountable to itself. That needs to change. If it’s for the people, it should include the people -- all the people.”

One such example of legislation that a member of the PLBC has introduced this session that would bring real and appreciable change to criminal justice is H.B.1531, which would amend Act 57 of 2020 to remove loopholes that were inserted by PA House Republicans upon its initial passage.

“This is a critical opportunity to amend the police misconduct database statue enacted in 2020 toward strengthening transparency, accountability and compliance measures,” said state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., the bill’s co-sponsor. “We must close the loophole that endangers those communities across the commonwealth who will not know when law enforcement applicants with serious misconduct on their records are hired.”