22 February 2011

It's Not a Crime to Be Native...

John T. Williams, a 50-year-old seventh generation Nitinaht carver of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, was shot four times by a Seattle police officer on August 30, 2010. He died at the scene. His only crime appears to have been walking across the street carrying a carving knife and a chunk of cedar. In a press conference the day after the shooting, Seattle Police Department (SPD) Deputy Chief Nick Metz said that Officer Ian Birk, 27, who has been with SPD for two years, was stopped at a downtown Seattle traffic light at 4:15 p.m. when the woodcarver crossed the street in front of his marked police car carrying an open pocketknife and a telephone-book-sized piece of cedar. “And he could see the knife,” Metz told reporters, “the blade of the knife, and he could see he was doing something to the board. The officer thought it was important to find out what was going on and why this person had in public an open-blade knife.” Metz said Birk got out of his car, approached Williams from behind and ordered the woodcarver to drop the knife three times. When Williams failed to do so within four seconds, Officer Birk fired his weapon five times from a distance of 10 feet. Williams was struck by four bullets, including one lethal shot to the chest wall, and died at the scene. In its initial statement to the press, SPD described Williams as having been “advancing towards” Officer Birk, who felt threatened and responded by firing his weapon.

Read the rest here...

It is quite disturbing to realize exactly how common this incident is.


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