The John Williams Shooting Inquest: Day Two


Seattle police Officer Ian Birk testified Tuesday that he felt threatened and feared for his safety when he fatally shot woodcarver John T. Williams last summer.

“I was left with no reasonable alternative but to fire,” said Birk, whose testimony marked the first time he has publicly discussed the controversial Aug. 30 shooting.

Birk told inquest jurors that he believed Williams was impaired when he saw him carrying a knife on a Seattle street. “The way he was carrying himself and his posture indicated he was in some sort of altered state,” Birk told jurors in the inquest into the shooting.

That, “along with the knife in his hand, made me concerned he might make someone uncomfortable or be a threat,” the 27-year-old officer said.

Williams’ blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.18 percent, according to an autopsy report given to The Seattle Times by the family. A driver with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent is considered drunk.