ADDED 2/17/2011 – Ian Birk, the police officer who killed John T Williams, has tendered his resignation from the Seattle police force.
ADDED 2/19/2011 – Demonstrators class with Seattle police. Pepper spray used. Back window of police car blown out – police forget to park the car and it rolls into a police van and hits someone.
Summary of video:
Why no mention of John being Deaf?
Links below with more information and links. The main point of this vlog is to share that i would like to see the Deaf community do something – send a message of our concern about the shooting of John T. Williams of the First Nation, Seattle, Washington by a policeman who saw him walking with a small knife and piece of wood. John himself was a wood carver, an artist. The police pursued him and called out to him to drop the knife. John being a hard of hearing / partially Deaf person – it is unclear if he heard the officer’s orders.
From the time the officer first called out to John and the time he shot him – was only 4 seconds. Not minutes – 4 S E C O N D S!
He shot and killed John. Today Seattle, Washington prosecutor’s office announced they will not be charging the officer with the murder of John T. Williams. I’m shocked. I was concerned about whether or not they would do right. I had no idea.
They did have an inquest in which 8 jurors listened to all the testimony, witnesses and reviewed all the evidence. The witnesses said they did not see John threaten the officer. Four jurors said that John was not a threat to the officer. One juror said he was and three said they were unsure. The prosecution said based on those mixed results, it is not enough to charge him with murder. In Seattle, Washington they have a provision that if a police officer is threatened or a person is a threat to society, the police officer may shoot to kill.
The next step is that the police dept will do their own investigation to determine if they will keep him on the police force or not. Keep or terminate. He already turned in his gun and his badge and has been on paid leave during this investigative process.
Prior to the inquest there was a departmental fire arms investigation which determined that the shooting was NOT JUSTIFIED because it was too fast – regardless of if he was threatened or not – they determined it was not proper police procedure. Based on this previous determination, it will probably lead the new police investigation to terminate the officer but the prosecution office will not charge him with murder. He may possibly loose his job but not his freedom because of the defense that he was threatened. Another possible next step would be for the case to go to civil federal court.
What hit me today is in reading a couple of articles and blogs from that area is there is no mention of John being Deaf. No mention of his being Deaf or hard of hearing – did he hear the orders or not – NOTHING!
During the inquest they asked several questions to the jurors but none of the questions asked “if John T Williams heard the officer? Did he know to drop the knife to fully turn around and see the officer?” They were asked if he had turned around to help determine if John was a threat or not because if his back was turned to the officer – how could be be a threat. I think only a few said he had partially turned. It was very unclear. But did John fully hear and understand what he was being ordered to do – that question unattended to. To me it is a most salient question. Very important. There were witnesses there – did john stop and fully turn around and respond to the officer.
I’m very disappointed. One article said several groups and organizations wrote letters to the prosecutions office expressing their concerns. I’m wondering if the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sent anything? Any other Deaf groups send letters. Its important. I know many members of the community – Native American and Seattle, Washington community will host rallies to show how upset they are. I hope members of the Deaf community will be represented there as well. I’m concerned that a significant part of who John was is being overlooked in the whole process. Thank you.
Past “People of the Eye” Entries about John T Williams Case
Being Deaf is Deadly? (Has several other videos)
Dear Members of the Seattle Police Force:
We know you all have a MIGHTY hard job and we would hate to have your job. We are thankful that there are folks willing to risk their lives to protect the city of Seattle
We are very sad and sorry that one of your own pulled the trigger four times on one of our own – John T. Williams – unjustly, unfairly, unnecessarily, and uncompromisingly.
We watch with eager eyes as Seattle works to right the past wrongs of police brutality and errors (see ACLU letter to the US Dept of Justice Civil Rights Division) – especially those that have been born out of racism, classism, ageism, ableism and audism*. More awareness of Deaf folks as a cultural, linguistic, and differently abled group is very much needed. Too many folks have been killed in the line of simply living Deaf lives. We look forward to seeing the police force and the city of Seattle work towards being peace officers as well as police officers.
Concerned Members of the Deaf Community
Definition of Audism from Audism Free America:
Audism is attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice—in overt or covert ways—against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life.