ianbirkpose03.jpg
"Based on the information available at the time Officer Birk fired his weapon, did John T. Williams then pose an imminent threat of serious physical

"/>

John T. Williams Inquest Jurors Return Mixed Answers

ianbirkpose03.jpg
"Based on the information available at the time Officer Birk fired his weapon, did John T. Williams then pose an imminent threat of serious physical harm to Officer Birk?" That's perhaps the most important question a jury was asked to answer today as part of the King County inquest into the police shooting death of John T. Williams. The answer they came back with, unfortunately, only leads to more questions.

Mainly questions like "Is this enough evidence to charge Seattle officer Ian Birk with a crime?"

Only King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg knows.

Thirteen questions were asked of jurors, not including several subsequent questions dependent on those initial answers. I wrote earlier today about how I would have answered.

On the most important question, one juror answered "yes," four answered "no," and three answered "unknown."

If this had been a trial in which jurors were deciding guilt, one dissenting opinion like that could have led to a hung jury. No doubt that fact will be weighing on Satterberg's mind when he decides whether to actually charge Birk or not.

Other important questions included whether Williams had had time enough to drop his knife after Birk ordered him to. Four jurors said "no," one said "yes," and three answered "unknown."

Here's the complete response list, via KOMO.

1. On August 20, 2010, did Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk observe John T. Williams crossing the street? Yes 8

2. Was John T. Williams holding an open knife at the time he was first observed by Officer Birk? Yes 8

3. Did Officer Birk get out of his patrol car to contact John T. Williams? Yes 8

4. Did Officer Birk gesture to John T. Williams to come back to Officer Birk's location? Yes 7 Unknown 1

5. Did John T. Williams have a knife in his hand when Officer Birk contacted him? Yes 8

6. Did Officer Birk order John T. Williams to put the knife down? Yes 8

If your answer to question 6 was yes, please answer the following four questions:

6a: Did Officer Birk order John T. Williams to put the knife down more than once? Yes 8

6b: Did John T. Williams have sufficient time to put the knife down after Officer Birk's order? Yes 1, No 4, Unknown 3

6c: Did John T. Williams try to put the knife down after Officer Birk's order? Unknown 8

6d: Did John T. Williams put the knife down before Officer Birk began to fire his weapon? No 8

7. Was the front of John T. Williams' upper body partially turned towards Officer Birk when Officer Birk began to fire his weapon? Yes 2, No 5, Unknown 1

7a: If no, was John T. Williams turning towards Officer Birk when Officer Birk fired his weapon? Yes 5

8. Did Officer Birk fire his weapon at John T. Williams on August 30, 2010? Yes 8

9. When Officer Birk fired his weapon, did John T. Williams have a knife in his hand? Yes 8

9a. If yes, was John T. Williams' knife blade open when Officer Birk fired his weapon? No 4, Unknown 4

10. Did Officer Birk believe that John T. Williams posed an imminent threat of serious physical harm to Officer Birk at the time Officer Birk fired his weapon? Yes 4, Unknown 4

11. Based on the information available at the time Officer Birk fired his weapon, did John T. Williams then pose an imminent threat of serious physical harm to Officer Birk? Yes 1, No 4, Unknown 3

12. Did John T. Williams die in King County, Washington on Aug. 30, 2010? Yes 8

13. Did John T. Williams die from the gunshot wounds caused by Officer Birk? Yes 8

The amount of "unknown" answers is staggering.

"Unknown" can easily turn into "reasonable doubt" in criminal proceedings.

 
comments powered by Disqus