Seattle Pays $1.5M to Family of Victim of Police Shooting

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

John T. Williams, a Native American woodcarver, died after being shot 4 times by Officer Ian Birk on August 30, 2010. Dashcam video is shown below.

Birk resigned Feb. 16 after the release of a scathing report by the Firearms Review Board report that found, among other problems, that Birk didn’t identify himself as a police officer as he approached Williams from behind. Williams was crossing the intersection while carving on a piece of wood with a legal knife (shown here in a police photo). The knife was folded shut when found by officers.

Williams, who was deaf in one ear, was shot in the side, not facing the officer.

Officer Birk was not criminally charged in the shooting.

H/T: Daily Kos, The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, Seattle Pi.

72 thoughts on “Seattle Pays $1.5M to Family of Victim of Police Shooting”

  1. @Evan i think that was the best observation about the event posted yet. I have a troubling theory as to why they didnt rush him to the hospital. all the cops show up see what happened and new that if William the woodcarver lived to point his finger at the aggressive thug (i think some people call them pigs, or cops or whatever) than the city of seattle would have been sued so badly that all those thugs who created a phalanx against the downed woodcarver would have been fired, imprisoned, and revoked of ever being allowed back into their gang.

    as to everyone getting mad at puzzleman up there posting, you all do realize that he is copy pasting one of the officers report from a website. which is even more disturbing that not only do these thugs get to kill people for fun, they also get to turn the whole story around to make the little old woodcarver look like osama bin ladin on PCP with a nuke strapped to his chest. the world is now a safer place w/o the deaf old woodcarver?
    i cant wait until america (or at least california) realizes that we pay taxes so a majority of that money goes into schools who teach students to be little communist worker bees, and police officers who are paid by MY TAX MONEY so they can pull me over and without clearly explaining the reason for the ticket, or in this guys case, the money he would have made selling the wood carving (if he sells them) goes to help pay for that officer to EXECUTE him in public w/o fair warning or provocation.

    this was cold blooded MURDER! and not only on the part of the shooter, but on every other officer there blocking any form of aid for this mans recovery. THEY ARE ALL MURDERERS! AND THIEVES!

  2. Are you fucking shitting me? It takes 11 cops with guns drawn to approach a man who has been shot 4 times, is laying motionless without the knife in his hand, and they say “he is the designated shooter, and will shoot him again if need be..”? What the fuck? All 11 of those cops, having seen the situation, and not rushing to the man’s aid are all complicit in the murder. ALL FUCKING 11 OF THEM. And then to make it worse, while he is wounded and dying, if he isn’t already dead, they FUCKING THROW HIM over to handcuff him when they should have been rushing him to a hospital. Fuck all of those cops.

  3. I hadn’t even seen the video, just read the report when I posted my first comment. After seeing the video it is even more clear that Birk (who does not deserve the title of officer), should be prosecuted for murder, plain and simple. The man walking along does not even appear to be any sort of threat to anyone at all. He had his back turned and being partially deaf couldn’t even hear the commands. Why did Birk even approach him in the first place? He was carrying a legal knife, not threatening anyone. Words can’t even express the hatred I have for cops like him, and there are plenty of them out there.

  4. @Steve: I have heard police say they are shooting multiple rounds because 1 bullet will not stop a crazed madman on PCP.

    My question is how many crazed madmen on PCP are there?

    I would guess the number of times a victim has been shot vs. how many times the victim was on PCP is quite low.

    This also brings into question the value of the lives at stake. The suspect has not been convicted of a crime and in the United States is innocent so why is stopping him worth more than the value of the police officer’s life? The police officer has knowingly taken a dangerous job. The suspect may be completely innocent and not intending to put himself in a dangerous situation.

    Therefor firing 4 or 5 bullets into an unconvicted man purely for the protection of the officer means we have cowardly police officers. If a police officer cannot assume some level of danger in protecting the public then he is not adding any protection to the public at all. He is instead travelling around being more of a danger to unconvicted men and women.

    So yes, Steve it appears we train our police to be over-reactive cowards that appear to be more dangerous and have less ability to diffuse and protect the public than your average man on the street. They are always preparing for the worst case scenario and end up causing a net escalation in violence on the street. Every confrontation is turned into the worst possible.

    Instead police could try to act more toward the spirit of the law assuming the best case scenario. This would be more dangerous to the police, but encourage good behavior in the public.

    In final. If officer Birk with all his weapons and armor was more afraid of John T. Williams than everyone walking casually by then he caused a net increase in fear and violence. This should be avoided.

  5. I have a feeling anyone trying to defend the cop is majorly biased by either knowing the guy, working for seatle government or some sort of misc cop apologist.

  6. The additional issue is why the police are emptying their guns into citizens. Even though the shooting was inappropriate, would not one shot have sufficed? Ever more frequently in deadly force situations police are executing people, plain and simple. This is clearly being taught in their training. They are not discerning any level of threat once deciding to use a gun (and I have heard the highly questionable rationale for this.) One of the questions becomes, is this execution trend proper public policy, and is there proper justification for providing police shooting victims almost no chance of survical? Are these deaths a result of a desire to limit liability, ie: when the victim is dead there is only one side to the story, the officers (with the exception on rare occasions of records like dash-cams.) What would have the officers story been, and what doubt would there have been, if the video did not exist?

    Also note the blog post above where jurisdictions are trying to make video recording of police an illegal activity. The circle is becoming rather clear.

    I would also like to see a study of when this change in training occurred and an examination of its genesis (if the change did actually occur), and also figures on police shooting victims, related to survivability rates, monetary liability to jurisdictions and any change in culpability figures for officers whether professionally or criminally.

    If we see survivability goes down, and in turn monetary liability and officer accountability goes down in lockstep, their is likely a positive feedback loop of ethical corruption.

  7. Comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Please maintain civility towards other commenters.

  8. Puzzeling- Your an immoral piece of shit. your on a power trip and should have all rights as an officer revoked and YOU should be put in jail along with this officer. If hes going to shoot everyone with a knife or that doesnt react the way he wants within 4 seconds of his first verbal warning then hes going to be constantly killing everyone. lol it just doesnt work like that. People like you are the reason Police have lost all dignity and respect in my eyes and the eyes of most citizens. Your the criminals

  9. My grandfather my father and myself and my kids were all in danger from this man. We all carried knives and we all liked to carve. I can assure you that if I heard someone come up behind me and started to yell at me “drop the knife” I probably would not have either.

    Deaf or not there was no reason to shot the guy. He never charged, I doubt he made any threatening moves. He just shot him.

    5 times.
    Listen to the whole thing. The cop never says he threatened him an any way. Only that he was carving up that board.

  10. I don’t get why alot of you are agreeing or saying that the cop was justified in shooting the dude… ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?, the cop could have handled the situation more professionally rather then being a pussy and shooting the man. ( if you guys didn’t watch the video, the cop was about at least 6-7 feet away from the man )

    He could have used……something….like a…..TASER AT LEAST!

    The cop shot him in the BACK! THE FUCKING BACK OK…. why the fuck would some of you side with the POLICE OFFICER???

    What I just saw was MURDER… the cop should be put away like that stupid white boy that shot Oscar Grant in Oakland!

  11. To say this cop was justified in his shooting of this man is like saying Obama is a conservative white man! The man was shot 4 times in the back and side! He was NOT crouched in a menacing way! The police are out of control! I respect law enforcement and realize they have a tough job, however this guy is an idiot and NEEDS to be in jail for murder! Had the man been charging him I could understand and would stand with him! This is obviously not the case here. Also of note, did anyone notice all the other cops drawing their weapons on arrival when this man was obviously not even twitching? They were hoping to fire also! We’re in serious trouble, folks! Arm yourselves and be ready!

  12. Be careful if you are in the city eating a steak dinner. If the officer tells you to drop the steak knife you better do so, and before 4 seconds have expired. Or you will be executed too.

  13. Murder. And he should have been tried as a murderer. I know the police have a tough job, but it doesn’t excuse this behavior. This man is a menace.

  14. Fuck the police. Where I live, they are all crooked as hell and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they would shoot you for no damn good reason. There is no excuse for a cop to shoot a man in the back, he should be criminally charged for murder. Or really, since he’s a cop and it wouldn’t get through, the citizens ought to just take care of it and give him the execution he gave this innocent man. I mean really, shooting him because he had a knife? He wasn’t attacking, and that is the type of situation pepper spray/tazers are used for. Fuck this cop, fuck every other crooked cop, and fuck the dumbass who wrote what was quoted in the very first post.

  15. I would like to thank user Puzzling for making me aware of There should be no refuge or dirty corner of the internet where these scumbags should be able to hide. That is how groups like the KKK, Nazis, and terrorists get started. Police are not the law. They are regular citizens like you or I entrusted with protecting other citizens.

    The law enables police to protect other citizens to the best of their abilities. THAT should be their priority. Let judges and politicians protect the law. At best this policemen acted to protect himself. At worst he provoked and sought out a confrontation with this man, which is murder.

  16. Ian Birk needs to be put in prison to rot for the rest of his idiotic life. All you hot heads out there wearing a badge you need to chill the fuck out. If your scared of a deaf guy with a pocket knife, maybe you need to find another, more safe career.

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