A lawyer for a First Nations woodcarver says the man apparently wasn’t facing Seattle police when an officer shot him to death in August, Steve Miletich of the Seattle Times reports:
John T. Williams (CTV photo)
John T. Williams, the woodcarver fatally shot by a Seattle police officer Aug. 30, was struck by four bullets on the right side of his body, indicating he was not facing the officer at the time the shots were fired, the attorney representing the Williams family said Tuesday.
“There’s nothing looking like he was facing toward him,” Seattle attorney Tim Ford said of Williams’ position as the officer fired. “It was all right side.”
John T. Williams, a member of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Dititdaht First Nation in British Columbia, was carrying a small carving knife when he was shot. Williams, who was partially deaf, was known for his miniature totem poles.
The story includes a copy of the autopsy report from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The outcry continues over a Seattle police officer’s shooting of a deaf Native American woodcarver on Aug. 30.
Yesterday, hundreds of people marched to help keep attention focused on the fatal shooting of John T. Williams, a member of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Dititdaht First Nation in British Columbia.
SeattlePI.com’s Casey McNerthney reviews the facts:
Williams, 50, was shot four times at Boren Avenue and Howell Street on Aug. 30, after police say he didn’t follow three verbal commands to drop his carving knife, which had a three-inch blade. Williams had come from a family of carvers and was part of the Nitinaht Tribe.
The shooting – the third officer-involved fatal incident this year – has prompted an internal investigation, a major police department overhaul, and promises by Police Chief John Diaz of a “peer review” by two outside police agencies. An inquest will also follow Seattle’s internal investigation.
Deputy Chief Nick Metz said investigators are looking into why Officer Ian Birk, who shot Williams, didn’t call for backup before shooting him. Police said the incident happened in about a minute.
According to both his familhy and court records, Williams – who carved miniature totem poles – struggled with alcoholism and homelessness.
Here’s the latest Associated Press report on the follow-up of the Aug. 30 shooting by Seattle police of John T. Wiilliams, a member of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Dititdaht First Nations in British Columbia:
John T. Wiilliams, a member of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Dititdaht First Nations in British Columbia. (CTV photo)
SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s police force is changing its command ranks to boost training and community involvement following an officer’s fatal shooting of a wood carver in a downtown intersection.
Chief John Diaz has named Nick Metz as deputy chief of operations and community building. Eight other commanders have been given new responsibilities to help fight crime while developing closer ties with city residents.
On Aug. 30, Seattle Officer Ian Birk fatally shot 50-year-old John T. Williams, a First Nations totem carver. Birk saw Williams with a knife and repeatedly ordered him to drop it just before shooting him four times from a distance of 9 to 10 feet. Members of Seattle’s Native American community and civil rights advocates have criticized the officer’s actions, questioning whether deadly force was necessary.
Diaz says his department will submit its investigation of the shooting to two other police agencies for an independent review. It also is reviewing its training procedures.
About 80 people gathered in Seattle Tuesday night for a vigil to protest the shooting by police of Native American woodcarver John T. Williams.
Williams, who was deaf, was shot Aug. 30 by Seattle police officer Ian Birk after he ignored orders to drop a three-inch folding knife, reports Carly Flandro of the Seattle Times:
A Seattle affiliate of the October 22nd Coalition, a national group concerned about police violence, organized Tuesday’s “vigil and speakout.” Several people spoke into a megaphone, held signs with Williams’ photo and clutched some of his carvings. Williams often carved and sold miniature totem poles.
The group included several of Williams’ relatives, as well as a number of homeless people who knew Williams from the streets. Wiilliams, a member of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Dititdaht First Nations in British Columbia, was well-known for the miniature totem poles he carved.
“He was a really gentle person,” Brenda Michaels tells Flandro. “Violence is not in his nature.”
As an aside to this story, reporter Carly Flandro once interned at the Missoulian. It’s wonderful to watch her covering important stories.