Seattle officer won't be charged in woodcarver shooting

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 15, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 16 at 10:05 AM

SEATTLE – King County prosecutors will not file criminal charges against Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk for fatally shooting a native woodcarver, according to high-level police sources, and a firearms review board has determined the shooting was not justified.

Editor's note: The King County Prosecutor's Office and the Seattle Police Department are expected to hold news conferences sometime Wednesday morning. The Mayor's Office has scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference. We plan to provide live coverage of those news conferences on this Web site.

The prosecutor's office is expected to announce the decision on charges Wednesday morning, followed by an announcement by Police Chief John Diaz about the review board's findings.

That will set the stage for an internal process that could lead to Birk being disciplined or fired.

When asked if the city is on standby for reaction following the prosecutor's announcement, Mayor Mike McGinn stayed tight-lipped Tuesday night.

"(Prosecutor) Dan Satterberg and the police department will be speaking to you tomorrow," said McGinn, who plans to have his own press conference Wednesday afternoon.
 

Protests have been planned at various times at City Hall and Westlake Plaza.

Officer Birk shot John T. Williams Aug. 30, 2010. The incident was captured on Birk's police car dash-cam. Birk could be heard ordering Williams to drop a knife he was carrying, followed by several shots. But Birk and Williams were out of camera view when it happened.

Birk has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. An inquest jury last month found the shooting questionable.

Williams' brother, Rick, declined to comment on the news Tuesday.

This comes as the U.S. Department of Justice begins an investigation into possible civil rights violations by the Seattle Police Department.

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