Officer Ian Birk murders John T. Williams

They won’t show you this on Cops.

This happened last year. Birk still has not been charged.

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20 Responses

  1. Well, I’m suspicious but not outraged. At least not yet, I’ll have to research it a little more.

    A few things I noticed:

    The fact that he was deaf in one ear is irrelevant. The officer had no way to know that.

    The fact that 4 shot were fired is not notable in the least, police and military are all trained to fire multiple shots, usually two, but 4 is a reasonable number. he didn’t empty 16 rounds into him.

    He was on his back (and shot in the side), which might mean he was partially facing the officer. It might not be the case, he may have flopped around after being shot. If he was facing him and approaching with a knife (open of closed) than shooting him is a pretty good idea. If not than we certainly have a murder on our hands, or at least a manslaughter.

    Why did the officer approach him in the first place?

    I’m not concerned whether the thing was open or closed, I carry a pocket knife almost all the time and I can open it pretty quick if I go to use it.

  2. At least it looks to me like he was on his back, anyone else?

  3. Nate, I agree with some of your points, but the police can not assume people aren’t deaf. This is something they’re supposed to be trained for.

    This looks like an open and shut case. Maybe there’s something we don’t know, so I’ll keep a spot open in my mind if that happens, but otherwise this looks like an awful use of force.

  4. I’m mostly deaf in my right ear, I have no idea how one would train to recognize signs of deafness, at least in a job where many people don’t comply with your directions and some end up needing assistance in complying.

    Its not like deaf people carry a special cane that screams: “excuse me, but I am partially or entirely deaf, as you can see here by my cane.”

  5. Maybe he could have waited more than 4 seconds before opening fire. Or he could have stood several more feet from the guy so that if that knife really was a danger, the cop could have had a moment to recognize that. Or he could have used a taser. Or he could have waited for backup. Or the victim could have been white.

    All valid options. Well, almost all.

  6. Certainly.

    One thing though, what makes you think that racism has anything to do with it? There is exactly zero evidence of that as near as I can tell. That is besides the opinion piece you linked to.

  7. Because there was nothing at all reasonable in Birk’s action. Not a single thing. A well dressed white man in a business suit doing the same thing would still be alive today.

  8. Okay, Miss Cleo.

    Could you pick me some lotto numbers?

    Potentially unreasonable use of force = racism. I don’t really think so. Had he yelled some racial slur, if the officer had been disciplined for something of that nature before, if there were evidence, than maybe, but not just because something bad happened to an Indian.

  9. It wasn’t potentially unreasonable. The department even called it unjustified after its investigation (which prompted the resignation).

  10. He wasn’t equipped with a taser either.

    And the reason he hasn’t been charged is because the internal investigation into whether it was a justified shooting or not has been on going. Which would be evidence in a trial, so it makes sense.

  11. What the department decides and what a court decides are two different things. Administrative investigations have a much lower burden of proof.

    I’m talking about whether a trial will decide it to be unjustified, criminally. I assume he still has the benefit of a presumption of innocence.

  12. He has at least that – and probably more since no one is even bothering to prosecute the murderer.

  13. There is a hearing date set, of some kind.

  14. The victim looked white enough to me. I don’t think that made a difference.

    Nate, you say you want to limit the power and use of force the government has available, but you don’t seem to be as angry about this clear abuse of force and power. This was an unprovoked attack, nothing less.

    We can not trust the agents of the government with unrestricted power, and when they violate the rights of the public, they must be investigated and if warranted, punished.

  15. I don’t rage over things I don’t have the whole story on.

    And once more, they have been investigating it. There appear to be court dates set, since the end of the internal investigation. I’m imagining that if is eventually found guilty, he will be punished.

    As he should be, if found guilty by a jury. I’m just happy these decisions aren’t made but the peanut gallery here. Michael (Hawkins) has been ready to throw him to the lions without anything more than a you-tube video.

  16. I completely respect using a trial to slow things down and making sure to separate the abuses from the justified cases. I share that view.

    But this is a video, and videos are a type of evidence. The video lets you hear what the first thing the shooter said to the rest of the police, and everything points to a horrible abuse of lethal force.

  17. Of course, but I put more stock in the ballistics report, official witness testimony, forensics evidence, at least over a video that show the guy walking by, where you hear the order to drop the knife, hear the shots fired, hear the call to dispatch. We see nothing.

    I’m just not yet ready to condemn the man, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until after trial time or grand jury time if they don’t indict him.

  18. You have to remember the context of our earlier conversation, where you declared that not prosecuting these mistakes was worth it to make sure the police can kill deserving criminals in dangerous situations.

    I’m fine with waiting for a proper investigation before making a firm conclusion, that’s why I’ve said this appears bad. I did not declare an absolute judgment.

  19. I said not prosecuting every mistake is needed if you want police. I said mistakes happen, no matter what you are doing, you can manage the risk, but never eliminate it.

    So if you want to have police, which we need to have, you have to tolerate mistakes. Some innocents go to jail, some innocents get arrested, some get shot.

    Our conversation strayed away from this specific case quite a bit. This is probably a case where he’ll be charged and convicted. If you did that with every single case than few cops are going to be willing to actively enforce the law, for fear of making a mistake.

  20. Look, guys… this isn’t rocket science. Self-defense shooting law is cut and dry. In order for a person to meet the criteria for a justifiable homicide, the individual must have faced, and this is very important, an _immediate_ and _unavoidable_ threat. Now, in the case of the Williams shooting, the officer states this himself… the suspect “had a knife drawn”…. walking around with a knife is in and of itself not a grounds to initiate a shooting absent context. To meet the legal criteria for a justifiable homicide, the officer must have been in fear of his life. In fact, at no time in the dash cam footage does the officer ever state “I was in fear of my life,” which is, actually, critical. In fact, the officer states, repeatedly, that he observe a man with a knife. He ordered the man to drop the knife, and the man didn’t. Then the officer shot him. The time frame between the shooting and the officer’s commands raises further questions. One could argue that, since he was not facing an immediate and unavoidable threat, and never indicated as much, he did not actually allow the suspect sufficient time to respond to his command. His command in other words being ‘perfunctory’. Long story short… this shooting stretches the legal definition of what constitutes a self-defense, and I believe if it would go to court, any reasonable jury would have to conclude that the officer essentially murdered the suspect for merely holding (or ‘brandishing’… which of course instantly carries that evil connotation)… a knife. My verdict? Officer is guilty of 2d murder. I’d say this is a complete failure of training. The officer obviously ‘thinks” he’s within the law… which is troublesome in its own right. How many more have-gun-will-travel trigger happy types are on the force waiting for a chance to get their kill? I’d order an immediate retraining for the entire police force over the EXACT rules of justifiable self-defense, because this is NOT it.

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