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Homeless man shot down by Seattle cops

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-08-10 02:06 AM
Original message
Homeless man shot down by Seattle cops
Seattle police officer Ian Birk says that when he saw John Williams holding a knife and piece of wood on the corner of Boren Avenue and Howell Street downtown, he stopped his car, switched on his emergency lights and stepped out to confront the man. After telling Williams to drop the knife three times, Birk fired four rounds at Williams from approximately 10 feet away, killing the homeless man. The entire reportedly incident lasted about a minute.

On the day of the shooting, Seattle Police Department spokeswoman Renee Witt said, "The male stood up and made advances toward the officer. The officer yelled very loud commands for the gentleman to stop and to drop the knife, at which point he did not."

But witnesses tell it differently. "When I heard that story, I was really upset because it was just total counter to what I witnessed," one onlooker told King 5 News. According to this witness, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Thomas, Williams was actually walking away from Officer Birk.

The weapon that allegedly posed such a threat to Officer Birk was a knife with a three-inch blade that Williams used to carve wood. Williams was a Ditidaht member of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations...Williams was also a seventh-generation carver--that's why he was carrying the knife and the wood. He often carved miniature totem poles that he sold to buy food, and sometimes alcohol--but also to buy food and gifts for his friends. According to friends of Williams, the day he died, he was on his way to sell his art at Pike Place Market.



http://socialistworker.org/2010/09/08/shot-down-by-seat...


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Norrin Radd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-08-10 02:31 AM
Response to Original message
1. Saw his pic on a corner surrounded by flowers. I was wondering
what happened.
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-08-10 05:28 AM
Response to Original message
2. I guess you have to have a home to count as a Human Being.
:wtf:
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stray cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-08-10 07:00 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Or at least not hold a knife when ordered to drop it repeatedly
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-08-10 07:04 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Goes one version of events.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #4
19. The cop's car audio caught 3 warnings given.
Diaz said investigators were looking for additional video that may have been taken in the area that shows the fatal shooting.

"You could hear the officer tell the man three times to drop the knife," Metz said of the audio recorded by the in-car camera. "The officer yelled these commands, and these commands were heard by some of the witnesses interviewed as well."

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/426004_police01.html

Given the victim's criminal history, I'm not going to be surprised when his blood tox comes back postiive for alcohol. Nor will I be surprised when the cop is cleared of wrongdoing, since it was an open, deadly blade, he was within 20 feet of the officer, and did not follow commands.

Picture of knife,

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012769...

criminal record.
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/426004_police01.html

Not saying it's right. Saying that I think the cop acted within guidelines and will not be criminally charged.
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Matariki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. riiiight.... the way cops shout "don't resist" at the person writing on the ground
while being tasered. Something needs to be done to hold out of control cops accountable. The 'good cops' certainly aren't doing anything to hold the 'bad apples' accountable.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #22
32. Is that what happened here?
I was writing specifically about this incident.
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Matariki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 02:10 PM
Response to Reply #32
35. There's a pattern of abuse that can't be ignored
Just because there's audio of the cop telling his murder victim to put down his pocket knife doesn't prove that the victim was being a threat. The fact that witnesses say the cop shot the victim in the back says more about what happened than some audio.

The 'resisting arrest' or 'posing a threat' excuse is wearing thin.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 04:11 PM
Response to Reply #35
62. Again, I'm talking about this specific incident.
The audio proves the cop was not lying about warning the victim.

If Mr. Williams was shot in the back, his autopsy will reflect that.
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Matariki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 04:42 PM
Response to Reply #62
77. The audio isn't conclusive proof of anything.
The example I gave illustrates that fact.

As you say, the autopsy will prove the facts, was well as testimony from witnesses.

Frankly I don't understand the blind, knee jerk defense of the police. I would think that the public AND the many decent folks that are police officers would want to root out those who abuse power, are bigoted or worse are murderers.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 04:52 PM
Response to Reply #77
81. The audio is conclusive proof of warnings given, Up the subthread,
it was suggested that the cop lied when he said that he warned Williams. He did not.

As I note downthread, one witness cited by Hannah Bell actually helps the cops....she states that Williams' back was to her, and that he was facing the cop....

Nothing knee jerk about it....if this cop did wrong, he should be punished. But so far, no one here has posted anything that indicates to me that this shooting will fall without his department's guidelines.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #81
94. BULLSHIT. SUCH BULLSHIT. The Seattle Police are already backtracking on their
original story, & your "revised" version of my post is BULLSHIT.

The killing was blatant murder, completely inexcusable, & no witnesses support the cops' original version.

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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-10 09:13 PM
Response to Reply #94
130. Well, "BULLSHIT" is certainly dispositive. Your lack of citation notwithstanding.
Edited on Fri Sep-10-10 09:27 PM by msanthrope
Certainly, if, downthread, you could dispute the fact that the witness you cited didn't back the cop's story, you would.

You would simply cite her published account.

But you don't.

And there's a reason why.

Your witness, recounted downthread, does not see Williams' hands. Because she was behind him.

And she never, ever, mentions the cop shooting him "in the back."

Because that isn't what she saw.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-10 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #94
134. If no witnesses support the cop, then cite them. Specifically. n/t
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 07:34 PM
Response to Reply #81
113. The witness doesn't say the victim was "facing the cop".
Edited on Thu Sep-09-10 07:39 PM by Hannah Bell
The witness was in a car going north. The cop going south. The victim crossed between them at the crosswalk going west. The cop turned on his lights, got out of the car, & went after the victim on the northwest corner. The witness only noticed the cop car when he turned on his lights and got out of his car to pursue the suspect who had crossed the street and was moving AWAY from where the officer was, going west.

The fact that the victim had his back turned toward the witness when she saw him DOESN'T EQUAL "tHE victim was facing the cop".



"Acting Deputy Chief Nick Metz said Tuesday that Birk was stopped in his car at a red light as he headed south on Boren when he spotted Williams walking in a crosswalk "carrying a wooden board and a knife."

The video, which hasn't been made public, shows Williams crossing the street in front of Birk and, moments later, the officer crossing in front of his car to the northwest corner of Boren and Howell, Metz said. The camera did not capture video of the shooting, but Birk can be heard on an audio recording ordering Williams three times to drop the knife, he said."

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012769...






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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-10 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #113
131. Did your witness forget to note that the cop shot him in the back?
Perhaps you could note the part where your witness says that.

It's important.


Oh, wait.....
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awoke_in_2003 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #22
51. the fact that good cops...
won't hold bad cops accountable is the reason that a lot of people despise all cops.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #51
109. yep. the ones defending this are always ready to hold the poor, the homeless,
Edited on Thu Sep-09-10 07:08 PM by Hannah Bell
& the powerless "accountable", though.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 06:30 PM
Response to Reply #19
104. Open, deadly blade?
Geez, we call that a tool around here, which is exactly what it is. The man was not threatening the cop, he was simply not doing what the cop wanted him to do. I'm old enough to remember back in the day when a cop wouldn't kill a man for not following an order when it wasn't a threatening situation. But that was back in the day, before cops lost their decency entirely.

Hell, I've walked through the middle of town carrying an open, naked broadsword, past a cop and nothing was said. But then again, I did have a home at the time.

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Missy Vixen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-10-10 08:49 PM
Response to Reply #19
128. Knife was legal to carry within Seattle
A 3" blade knife is legal.

The victim was known to be deaf in one ear. He also was known to have cognitive problems as a result of alcoholism.

You might also be interested to note that his "criminal record" consisted mainly of arrests for lewd behavior/public drunkenness. In other words, he probably peed in a gutter.

That man was not dangerous to anyone else. There is a reason why the witnesses will not give anything but a first name. I should also add that it's comical to watch the SPD "searching for additional video". They're not going to find it.

The guy in question committed the crime of homelessness and alcohol abuse. The cop won't be criminally charged. The police will be writing a LARGE check to the relatives, however, and it's one more reason why it's a good idea to stay out of downtown Seattle.
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slampoet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-08-10 09:52 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. If you made all your living from just one tool would you let a cop take it?
Edited on Wed Sep-08-10 09:57 AM by slampoet
How does a cop see a three inch blade from a moving car?

Are you aware that having a three inch blade is COMPLETELY legal even if it is concealed?

Given that the cop was stopping for something that wasn't even a crime, why do you insist on buying his side Immediately?

Have you ever had to sell something you made with your own hands just to get a hot meal in your life? I bet the cop never has.

Also the cop is changing his story,

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

It also looks like the homeless man was partially deaf. Have you ever had to deal with a disabled person? Have you ever had a disability?


But you probably don't care because you are likely a hit and run snark. Most of the ones with no info on their profile are, or am I judging you from appearances like a cop judging the homeless man?
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KamaAina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Law enforcement's record with the Deaf community is horrendous
When a cop yells "Freeze!", he expects you to freeze. If you don't, he assumes you're a dangerous suspect. The thought that you might be Deaf never enters his mind.

It's happened to someone I know, who was shoved down on the ground and cuffed after a DUI stop.
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:19 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. "Given that the cop was stopping for something that wasn't even a crime, why do you insist on buying
his side Immediately?"

Because hatred of homeless people is rampant, and it is time we recognize that fact.
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laughingliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #9
16. Some among us welcome the encroaching police state. nt
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slampoet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:04 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. I was right.
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laughingliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:28 PM
Response to Reply #3
15. Huh! Incident took ~ 60 seconds. Officer got 4 shots off. Doesn't sound like a lot of time for
'repeatedly.' Witnesses dispute the asshole...er...officer's account.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:46 PM
Response to Reply #15
21. sounds like plenty of time to me.
How long does it take you to repeatedly shout "drop the knife?"
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laughingliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #21
26. Might be good to allow time for the person to drop the knife after you yell at them.
I'm int clined to believe the witnesses who did not see the man as posing a threat and felt he was walking away from the officer. The cop's going to be out to save his own butt. I don't see the witnesses have a reason to lie. And 3 shots? Or 4? A little excessive to stop a guy with a 3 inch knife.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. 60 seconds is more then enough time to expect a person to drop the knife.
If the person was deaf, that just makes it more of a senseless tragedy, not a fault on the officer's part.

If the officer was lying and the guy was walking away, then like the other guy said, the autopsy will show that. Witnesses lie all the time.
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BakedAtAMileHigh Donating Member (900 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 01:06 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. cops lie just as often
Edited on Thu Sep-09-10 01:08 PM by BakedAtAMileHigh
You would make a great officer.

Do you really believe it is not the cop's responsibility to insure he is communicating effectively before he ends someone's life? Do you find that an unreasonable expectation?

:eyes:
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-09-10 01:18 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. You got any statistics to back that up?


"Do you really believe it is not the cop's responsibility to insure he is communicating effectively before he ends someone's life?"

I believe it's some guy's responsibility to drop the knife if a cop's shouting at him to drop it.

If he's deaf in one ear and got an ear bud in the other, then it's just a senseless tragedy.

And Occam's Razor says that's probably what happened.
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