Multiple sources tell us the King County Prosecutor’s office will not file charges against Officer Ian Birk for fatally shooting John T. Williams on a downtown corner last August.
There’s always the possibility that KC Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has a change of heart, but we’ve repeatedly heard this would be a difficult case to file as, under Washington law, prosecutors would have to prove that Officer Birk’s actions were malicious.
The prosecutor’s office will hold a press conference later this week to formally announce their decision.
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office declined to comment on their charging decision.
Update—Here are Washington’s legal statutes for first degree murder, and first and second degree manslaughter:
Murder in the first degree
(1) A person is guilty of murder in the first degree when:
(a) With a premeditated intent to cause the death of another person, he or she causes the death of such person or of a third person; or
(b) Under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life, he or she engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to any person, and thereby causes the death of a person; or
(c) He or she commits or attempts to commit the crime of either (1) robbery in the first or second degree, (2) rape in the first or second degree, (3) burglary in the first degree, (4) arson in the first or second degree, or (5) kidnapping in the first or second degree, and in the course of or in furtherance of such crime or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant, causes the death of a person other than one of the participants: Except that in any prosecution under this subdivision (1)(c) in which the defendant was not the only participant in the underlying crime, if established by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence, it is a defense that the defendant:
(i) Did not commit the homicidal act or in any way solicit, request, command, importune, cause, or aid the commission thereof; and
(ii) Was not armed with a deadly weapon, or any instrument, article, or substance readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury; and
(iii) Had no reasonable grounds to believe that any other participant was armed with such a weapon, instrument, article, or substance; and
(iv) Had no reasonable grounds to believe that any other participant intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death or serious physical injury.
(2) Murder in the first degree is a class A felony.