SEATTLE Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk resigned Wednesday, hours after King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced that Birk would not face criminal charges for the fatal shooting of a woodcarver who was armed with a knife.
Chief John Diazissueda statment saying:
Officer Ian Birk has communicated to me his intent to resign his commission with the Seattle Police Department.His resignation will take place effectively at 4 p.m. today.
At my direction, the Office of Professional Accountability investigation will continue forward. The completion of this investigation is not contingent on Ian Birk remaining on the force. Reaching our own administrative conclusion is a necessary step to providing a small degree of closure to the many people affected by this tragedy over the past several months.
If the Office of Professional Accountability presents me with a recommendation for discipline, it will be kept on file per department protocol and presented to the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.
Birk's attorney, Ted Buck, said that the officer been through emotional turmoil and heartache over taking a man's life but still believes he had no choice.
No one's every going to know what Mr. Williams' intent was that day, whether he was planning on sticking that knife in Ian Birk, said Buck. What we do know is that Officer Birk, through his training and experience, saw in Mr. Williams' eyes and behavior, a man who appeared to be an imminent threat. And if we ask police officers to wait until the knife is in them to make a decision to defend themselves we are going to have tragedies of a different kind.
Buck says Birk realizes in hindsight he should have called for back-up, and that he got too close to Williams.
In a phone conversation Wednesday afternoon, Birk told his attorney that he did not believe he could continue in his role as a Seattle Oolice officer given all of the enmity that's built up so he called the chief and resigned.
Mayor Mike McGinn issued a statement saying, in part, that it appears clear that Officer Birk saw the writing on the wall. He could read the same Firearms Review Board report that the rest of us did.
He said the final OPA review will continue, so that the Department can properly close the case and recommend to the state whether Birk should be allowed to work elsewhere as an officer of the law.
Satterberg said Wednesdaythat Washington law protects police officers from a homicide charge unless there's evidence of malice or bad faith.
McGinn said he's deeply sorry for the tragedy and would work to restore the community's faith in the police force.
The decision not to charge Birk prompted an outcry from Williams' family and supporters, who planned demonstrations downtown.
Birk had been on paid leave since the shooting. His badge and gun were taken from him after a hearing in October.