PPD reversal: Body cam footage disproves initial police narrative on deadly Kensington shooting

When asked about rebuilding trust with the public, Police Commissioner Outlaw likened the incident to taking “50 steps back.”

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Danielle Outlaw speaking at a podium

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw at a press conference at police HQ on June 26, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

New information concerning a fatal shooting by a police officer in Kensington was released on Tuesday, correcting details from the initial police report.

The new release describes two officers, identified as Officer 1 and Officer A, observing a car operating erratically at around 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14. After police had followed the car for several turns, the driver went the wrong way down Willard Street before pulling into a parking spot.

After leaving the vehicle, police say Officer A attempted to open the passenger side door while Officer 1 approached the driver’s side door. Officer A alerted Officer 1 that the driver had a weapon. As the driver turned towards Officer 1, Officer 1 discharged his firearm multiple times into the vehicle. The driver, later identified as 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry, was taken to Temple Hospital by police and pronounced dead at 12:48 p.m.

Originally, the information released by police claimed the following:

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  • That the victim had exited his vehicle
  • That the victim “lunged” at police
  • That police had given “multiple” commands for weapons to be dropped

Police updated the information after body camera footage was obtained. “The body-worn camera footage made it very clear that what we initially reported was not actually what happened,” explained Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

When asked for an explanation for the inaccuracies contained within the initial report, police said they are still working to trace the source. The commissioner said the “lunging” narrative had established itself before she and others arrived at the scene.

“We’re trying to backtrack that as well to figure out exactly how that was relayed to leadership on the scene. But again, as soon as we found out that that was not what occurred, we did what we could to be as transparent as possible to get the information,” Outlaw said.

The commissioner further asserted the description of the shooting came from an “internal” source, meaning law enforcement as opposed to the public. “This is information that would have generated internally, not necessarily from someone that was a potential witness or out there on the street.”

The officer who fired his gun has not yet been interviewed. Christine Coulter, the PPD’s chief of detectives, explained that officers involved in shootings have a 72-hour period to complete an interview after a shooting.

“It protects the officer’s rights as well as anybody else involved in it,” Coulter said. “Because it’s a parallel investigation, the officer has the right to consult with counsel.”

Christine Coulter speaking at a podium with other police officials
Christine Coulter, the PPD’s Chief of Detectives, explains new details surrounding the shooting death of Eddie Irizarry. Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and other law enforcement stand nearby. (Sam Searles/WHYY)

Many questions could not be answered due to the ongoing investigation, including the exact location of two knives in Irizarry’s car.

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When asked about rebuilding trust with the public after the inaccurate initial report, Outlaw likened the incident to taking “50 steps back.”

“I understand the reticence,” she said. “I understand folks not really being sure whether or not they should even trust what we’re saying today because of what we said initially. But I’m hoping that they see that this is a genuine effort to do everything that we can to share what we know when we have it as we receive it.”

The updated press release, in part, says the information is “preliminary and subject to change as the investigation continues.”

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