I’m not thrilled with this outcome, but I expected it. I understand that police officers shouldn’t be prosecuted for merely making mistakes while on duty. And if a police officer feels his life or the lives of others are in danger, he should be able to respond appropriately. But there was nothing about this incident that made me think that Officer Birk acted with even the minimal level of restraint that we’d expect from a police officer. Dominic re-posted the dash-cam video of the incident (which doesn’t capture the shooting itself) and I have trouble imagining how Birk could have felt his – or anyone else’s – life was in immediate danger because Williams had a carving knife.
At the very least, Birk had better be fired today, yet I find it to be a shame that his firing would be the only semblance of justice that the Williams family sees from this.
UPDATE: As several commenters have pointed out, the Williams family can still bring civil lawsuits against SPD and they’d be more likely to prevail than in their efforts to have criminal charges filed.
UPDATE 2: Mayor McGinn’s statement here.
UPDATE 3: Officer Ian Birk resigns.