The Seattle Police Department did a thorough and unbiased investigation into the fatal shooting of woodcarver John T. Williams by Seattle officer Ian Birk, according to a review conducted by a San Diego Police Department homicide commander.
But the four-page review faulted the department for doing too many telephone interviews that produced confusing information, and for initially putting out “factually inaccurate” information about the shooting, including a retraction of its statement that Williams advanced on Birk before the shooting.
The peer review was released Friday by the Seattle Police Department, under a public disclosure request. A second review by another outside police agency, which has not been disclosed, is pending.
Neither the San Diego investigator nor the second agency participated in the investigation of the Aug. 30 shooting, but both reviewed the work done by Seattle police homicide detectives.
In a Jan. 20 letter to Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, San Diego homicide Lt. Kevin Rooney said he met in November with Seattle police homicide investigators, visited the scene of the shooting, reviewed a PowerPoint presentation and examined a copy of materials developed by detectives.
“The death of John Williams has prompted harsh words about police-community relations, officer training, and law enforcement’s use of force in general,” Rooney wrote. “In this highly-charged environment, the Seattle Police Department Homicide Unit was tasked with conducting an expeditious, unbiased, transparent fact-finding of his death.”