Woodcarver's family to prosecutor: Charge Birk with murder

SEATTLE -- The family members of slain woodcarver John T. William is taking their fight straight to the top.

During a private meeting with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg on Friday, the Williams family asked him to charge Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk with the murder of Williams. A spokesman for the John T. Williams Organizing Committee then read aloud the letter the family hand-delivered to Satterberg.

The letter said, in part, "We feel strongly and it is evidence by the jury's results in the inquest that 4 seconds to death cannot be ignored.

"In question 6b, the jury agreed that the late John T. Williams did not have time to respond. In questions 7 and 9a the jury indicates that there is evidence that Officer Ian Birk was acting outside his appropriate role as an officer on our city's streets. And in 11 the jury, by its responses, show (sic) that the (sic) Ian Birk's story in this case is not credible."

Accompanying the letter was a petition signed by citizens "who would urge you to follow through with charging Ian Birk in the shooting death of the late John T. Williams."

The eight-member inquest jury {A href=""}split its decision over the question about the true danger Birk faced when Williams failed to drop the knife. Four said there was no actual threat while three others said the answer is unknown.

"We feel that the jury of the inquest did not believe Officer Birk, did not find his testimony credible," said Jay Hollingsworth of the John T. Williams Organizing Committee. "And so we're seeking the greatest justice we can."

Birk maintained that Williams had a knife with its blade open and refused his commands to put it down. He felt threatened, and opened fire. Four of the inquest jurors didn't think Williams had enough time to put the knife down.

Prosecutors are reviewing the inquest jury's findings as they make their own determination on whether criminal charges are warranted.

A decision is expected in about a month.
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