Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Buck Stops with Nobody

The recent killing of John T. Williams at the hands of a Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer, which first triggered serious questions and then serious outrage, is now triggering a movement. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for the Native American man on September 2, the crowd spilling out onto Second Avenue late into the night. Since then, the mood has shifted from somber to angry—and next week, on September 16, several groups are planning a protest. The details are still forthcoming, but the central message is clear: They want accountability from the police department and city hall—which has so far been lacking.

In its entirety, SPD says that the incident with Williams—from the time Officer Ian Birk pulled over until he fired his gun—happened in under a minute. At 4:15 p.m. on August 30, Birk, a 27-year-old officer who has worked for the SPD for two years, saw Williams crossing Howell Street with a piece of wood and a knife. Footage from an in-car patrol camera shows both men cross in front of the car and move out of view.

"The only thing we know for sure is the individual had a knife," said Chief John Diaz at a press conference on August 31. "We know from audio recordings that the officer issued at least three commands for the suspect to drop his knife." But Williams allegedly refused Birk's orders. From approximately 9 to 10 feet away, Birk fired four rounds.

American Scofflaw

The dude would have been better off here

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