«What was said before the shooting, as well as other facts of the case, should be handled at a trial, not a preliminary hearing.» -Assistant District Attorney Lyandra Retacco
Philadelphia, PA – Judge Lillian Ransom’s decision on October 25th, 2023, at the Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice in Philadelphia, PA, was met with anticipation and relief as she reinstated all charges against former police officer Mark Dial. Dial was ordered to be jailed without bail, a ruling that was met with celebration by Eddie Irizarry Jr’s family and the supportive community present.
Eddie Irizarry’s father expressed his faith in the justice system, stating that the judge handled the matter professionally. He also emphasized the need for improved police training and accountability for wrongful actions, expressing sorrow over the loss of both their son’s life and potentially the career of a young police officer.
Conversely, members of Mark Dial’s family openly grieved over the judge’s decision. Brian McMonagle, representing Dial, made an emotional plea to Judge Ransom to avoid going to trial. However, Assistant District Attorney Lyandra Retacco argued that the statements made by the officers involved before the shooting and other case facts should be examined during the trial. Judge Ransom ultimately made her decision based on the presented evidence.
The courtroom and courthouse hallway were filled with tension, and Judge Ransom cautioned those present to remain calm, aware of the emotional impact of her decision. Various community leaders and organizations, including The Rock and Esperanza, attended to support the Irizarry family, who had been grappling with the loss of Eddy and the ensuing legal proceedings for two months.
Zoraida Garcia, Irizarry’s aunt, tearfully expressed her relief, saying, «This is justice.» She also thanked the community for their support, explaining that the decision’s outcome was emotionally overwhelming.
The decision was a cause for celebration among Irizarry’s friends and family, who had tirelessly advocated for «Justices for Junito.»
Ana Cintron, another of Irizarry’s aunts, saw the ruling as a positive first step and praised the judge for her decision. She also underscored the need for further steps in the quest for justice.
Beyond the individual case of Mark Dial, this ruling represents progress toward determining responsibility for the tragedy and understanding how it transpired. Many residents of Philadelphia, especially Latinos, are calling for reform within the city’s police force to prevent such senseless events in the future. They are also demanding a reform of the U.S. justice system to hold police officers and officials accountable when lives are lost. Dial’s defense team is exploring options to move the trial out of Philadelphia. Still, Zoraida Garcia is steadfast in her belief that the trial should remain in the city where Eddie Irizarry lost his life.
This decision marks a significant step forward, with broader implications for both law enforcement accountability and the demands for reform in Philadelphia and the nation.
Lili Daliessio is the Community Information Manager at Esperanza Housing and Economic Development.