Seattle officer testifies at shooting inquest

Seattle, Washington (AP) January 2011

A lawyer for the family of a Native American woodcarver fatally shot by a Seattle police officer has grilled Officer Ian Birk.

Birk told an inquest last week that he feared John T. Williams was going to attack him. Williams was carrying a knife and a piece of wood as he crossed a Seattle street on Aug. 30.

In response to lawyer Tim Ford’s questions last week, Birk testified that shortly after the shooting he told a witness, a responding officer and a detective that Williams had not complied with his order to put down the knife. The officer acknowledged he didn’t say then that Williams had threatened him.

Ford asked why Birk didn’t tell Williams, “Put the knife down or I’ll shoot.”

Birk says he didn’t have time, adding “I did the very best that I could.”

The inquest aims to determine facts that King County prosecutors may use in deciding whether to charge the officer.