DOJ: No charges in death of Seattle woodcarver
Friday, January 13, 2012
SEATTLE (AP) -- The U.S. Justice Department says no criminal charges will be filed against a former Seattle police officer who shot and killed a Native American woodcarver in 2010.
John T. Williams had just crossed a street while holding a knife and a block of wood when Officer Ian Birk got out of his patrol car, ordered him to drop the knife, and then shot him to death. The killing outraged many, who saw it as an unnecessary use of force.
Birk resigned from the police department and the city paid $1.5 million to the Williams family. The Justice Department launched a review of the department, eventually determining that Seattle police engaged in a pattern of violating the rights of minorities.
The DOJ also conducted a criminal civil-rights investigation of Birk's actions, and announced Friday that there is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully violated Williams' rights.