Woodcarver's family reacts to SPD findings

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by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 14, 2010 at 7:38 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 14 at 8:15 PM

RENTON, Wash. -- Relatives and friends of a man shot and killed by a Seattle police officer in August said they have mixed emotions over learning that preliminary findings indicate the shooting was not justified.

There's a sense of vindication, they said, because it means someone believes John T. Williams was an innocent victim. But there's also a sense of sadness, because it doesn't make his death any less tragic.

"This has hit all of Seattle," said his sister by adoption, Susanne Chambers. "It hasn't just hit family members. There are so many people touched by what happened."

You'll find a mural of Williams on a wall just off 11th Avenue and Pine Street in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

"I think it shows his character, the sweetness he had," said Chambers.

Below the painting you'll find fliers speaking out against police brutality, referring to Williams' shooting death downtown on Aug. 30.

Chambers said she wishes her brother's legacy would be his First Nation native carvings, of which he was prolific.

"He gave freely of himself, he would teach people," she said, "but he had so much more potential. He hadn't even begun his elderhood."

Sources now say preliminary SPD findings indicate the shooting may not have been justified, and Chambers said she welcomed news that the officer involved has been asked to surrender his badge.

"If I have anger, it's toward that individual officer toward what he did," Chambers said.

Sweetwater Nannauck, who was working one block away the day of the downtown shooting, called her reaction a "roller coaster of feeling."

Nannauck said she befriended family members after the shooting and was one of the organizers for a protest march downtown afterward. She said she was glad to hear the findings, but recognized that they are preliminary.

Chambers agreed, saying she still wants to see what the inquest and final review decide on the shooting.

"Overall, I would like the Seattle Police Department more serve-and-protect, less aggressive," said Chambers. "In a way, I'm relieved ... that... maybe something positive will come out of this."

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