Police change narrative in Philadelphia officer-involved shooting, family calls for body-cam release

Irizarry Family

(PHILADELPHIA) — The family of a 27-year-old man killed in an officer-involved shooting this week in Philadelphia is calling on officials to release body-camera video of the incident after police said their initial description of the event was not accurate.

During a news conference Wednesday, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Eddie Irizarry was sitting in his car in the city’s Kensington neighborhood when he was shot multiple times by one of two officers who approached him after he allegedly drove the wrong way down a one-way street. Police initially said Irizarry was shot while lunging at an officer with a knife while outside his vehicle.

Outlaw said two knives were found in Irizarry’s car, but declined to say if Irizarry had a knife in his hand when he was fatally shot.

“At the time we gave that information, that was the best information that we had available. And we always strive to clarify and update that information as quickly and accurately as possible, that’s what we’re doing here today,” Outlaw said of the discrepancies from the initial report from police officials.

Irizarry’s family is calling on Outlaw to release video from the body-worn cameras the officers were wearing at the time of the shooting.

“The story changes, and it’s going to keep changing. They’re going to keep changing it. But, we’re going to get to the bottom of this. We’re going to show that they were wrong,” Irizarry’s aunt, Zoraida Garcia, told ABC station WPVI in Philadelphia.

The names of the police officers involved in the incident have not been released and during her news conference, Outlaw referred to them as “Officer 1” and “Officer A.”

The shooting erupted around 12:30 p.m. on Monday after the two uniformed officers in a marked police car spotted Irizarry’s Toyota Corolla allegedly driving erratically, according to officials.

Outlaw said that while the officers were following the car, Officer A radioed in the vehicle’s license plate number and asked if there were any priority assignments involving the Toyota sedan.

The officers continued to tail the vehicle as it went the wrong way down a one-way street and parked in front of a home, officials said.

Outlaw said it remains under investigation whether the officers activated their lights and sirens in an attempt to stop the vehicle.

She said once the driver parked, the officers got out of their patrol car and Officer 1 walked up to the driver’s side window while Officer A went to the passenger side and attempted to open the door.

The commissioner said Officer A alerted Officer 1 that the driver had a weapon, prompting Officer 1 to open fire as Irizarry, the only occupant of the vehicle, turned in Officer 1’s direction while still in the driver’s seat.

Irizarry was taken to Temple University Hospital where he was pronounced dead, officials said.

Police officials described the two knives found in Irizarry’s car as a “kitchen-style knife” and a “serrated folding knife.” Neither Outlaw nor other police officials have commented on where the knives were located in the vehicle.

“He always did carry a little pocket knife, but it’s nothing big,” Garcia told WPVI of her nephew, claiming that he suffered from schizophrenia.

Irizarry’s sister, Maria Irizarry, said her brother was shot six times.

“That’s for you to kill somebody when you shoot that many times,” Maria Irizarry told WPVI. “If he didn’t do anything, there’s no reason for you to do that.”

Officer 1, according to officials, is a five-year veteran of the police department. He was placed on restricted duty, pending the results of an internal affairs investigation of the officer-involved shooting, officials said. Investigators said Officer A did not fire his gun during the encounter with Irizarry.

Outlaw said Wednesday that investigators had yet to interview the officer who shot Irizarry. She said investigators are still reviewing the body camera videos from both officers and that no decision has been made on whether to release the videos to the public.

Police department protocol allows up 72 hours before an officer involved in a shooting can be interviewed.

“Once we get a clearer picture I will be able to say with certainty and make a determination whether or not they operated within policy of the department,” Outlaw said of the officers involved in the Irizarry incident.

Loved ones and friends held a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening near where Irizarry was killed, releasing balloons in honor of the man they described as “humble.”

“I’m here with my whole family because we want justice,” Garcia said at the vigil. “They murdered my nephew, here, in cold blood and I want answers.”

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