JOHN T. WILLIAMS… by Ray Martin
Since the unjustified taking of John T’s life on the streets of Seattle by police officer Ian Birk, a lot of the media attention was directed on Johns dealings with the police and not the actions taken by this officer. Since the beginning the department fire arms commission ruled this shooting to be unjustified. Even before the video was released Ian Birk was ordered to relinquish his badge and firearm, yet he continues to remain on paid administrative leave to this day. This officer shot this elder and 4th generation wood carver in 4 seconds and never identified himself as a police official. John was hard of hearing and his mobility was greatly effected by his age and lifestyle. Yet this officer claims in those 4 seconds john turned and was in a prone position ready to attack him. None of his statements matched any of the independent statements made by witnesses on the scene.
This officer was not trained or armed with a tazer, but was armed with O.C. Police Spray and his Baton. He shot John multiple times from over 10 feet away, instead of using his Police Spray that is effective from 10-12 feet away. This man was not healthy and physically able enough to pose a deadly threat to him from this distance, and never acknowledged him or made a threat to do so.
Every account made by the police, and fire department officials was different. First the knife was open, then it was closed, then It had a faulty mechanism so it could have closed itself after hitting the ground. Everything that could be done to try to justify this killing was being done by the police and the media. Q 13 Fox news launched a very disrespectful smear campaign in cooperation with the police we feel against John. Reporting on his prior dealings with police. Yet when information to the exact contrary surfaced showing the police departments malice against John and harassment by them, they did nothing to retract or research what they had previously reported on.
Employees witnessed Seattle Police harassing and berating John at “Dicks Drive In” on Broadway and where instructed by upper management not the report on what they saw. One employee I contacted told me she was fearful of losing her job if she was to go public on what she saw. These officers were seen kicking him down the street and shaking up unopened beer cans and spraying them at him. This goes to show the malice the department had for John. They then used audio of him screaming obscenities at them as evidence of his disdain for the police.
To bring an officer up on charges for killing someone is very difficult. They have a certain level of protection afforded to them and proving that they acted criminally is hard when all they really have to say is they were in fear for their life and the lives of other citizens. Prosecutors have to prove that the officer acted maliciously. The actions of police at “Dicks Drive In” go to show the malice the Seattle police had for Mr. Williams.
A public inquest was held with 8 jurors where they were asked 15 questions to decide whether or not the officer was justified in killing John T. Williams. Officer Ian Birk testified that he had no other alternative than to use deadly force. He said Mr. Williams was facing him in an attack position and from a distance of 10 feet away he shot him 4 times. The gunshots however, show that John was not even facing the officer, which is what independent witnesses all say. Witnesses say John never stopped walking, faced the officer, or even acknowledged his presence. The jurors were split on whether the shooting was justified, and the prosecutor will make a decision on whether or not to file in mid February.
In the weeks following this incident there have been multiple accounts of police brutality and racism made against the Seattle Police. There have been numerous protests in the streets of Seattle over the amount of instances in where the police have been caught on camera assaulting people in handcuffs, and using racist foul language against citizens. A 10 million dollar settlement has just been paid to a victim of police brutality and no one is holding this department accountable for its actions.
I have contacted every council member in king county the governor, the aclu, and the naacp asking for independent action and investigations be taken against the Seattle Police Department. I have spoken to numerous reporters from every network In Washington State trying to get a fair account of all the information available. I have faxed the king county prosecutor and the Williams family attorney with all the information I have collected so there is no way they can look the other way and try to say they did not know.
This senseless taking of one of our elders and gifted wood carvers is a case of modern day ethnic cleansing. The position of the police is to protect and serve. John T. Williams was not harming anyone, he was crossing the street doing what he loved, carving a piece of wood. He made no threats to anyone on that day and was killed by a man with malice in his heart and a chip on his shoulder. Nothing the prosecutor does is going to replace what was taken, and if anything good can come from this, let it be a renewed sense of unity among our people. In Johns memory I take a new strength and love for all native people and when I walk the streets of Seattle and see his brothers teaching new students and the younger generation their gift it warms the soul. Rest in paradise John T. Williams.
Written by: Ray Martin aka Bigg Trub