Jurors for the inquest into the Aug. 30 shooting death of woodcarver John T. Williams spent more than four and a half hours deliberating Wednesday, and are scheduled to reconvene Thursday morning for a ninth day.
The six-person jury, which deliberates with two alternates, is being asked to answer 13 questions, some with multiple sub-questions. The group is comprised of six men and two women.
One of the questions asks if Williams’ knife was open at the time he was first observed by Ian Birk, the Seattle police officer who fatally shot him. Birk has said it was, but investigators photographed the knife closed at the scene. Williams’ older brother, Rick, said in the last day of testimony Tuesday that they were taught to close their carving knives when talking to people.
Another question asks if Williams had sufficient time to put the knife down after being ordered to by Birk. Birk has said he had to act immediately to stop a deadly threat. His patrol car footage indicates the first of at least four shots was fired about five seconds after the officer’s first command to put the knife down.
My prediction: the inquest jury splits, and the King County Prosecutor’s office declines to file charges against Birk on the grounds that it’d be tough to prove any malicious intent on his part.
Birk will be disciplined—maybe even fired—by SPD Chief Diaz, but the union will get Birk his job back if he wants it.