Woodcarver's brother testifies at inquest

Jan 18, 2011

The brother of the woodcarver killed by a Seattle policeman testified today during the inquest into the shooting. Much of the testimony during the inquest has centered on whether John T. William’s knife was open or closed at the time he was shot by Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk, who has testified he feared the woodcarver was about to attack him.

On the stand today, John T. Williams older brother Rick told jurors he and his brother were taught by their father to close their knives when they talked to people. Linda Byron of KING 5 News writes:

Rick Williams demonstrated for an inquest jury how John T. Williams would have secured his knife by pressing the blade against a piece of wood to collapse the blade when he was addressed.

During questioning of Rick Williams, Officer Birk’s attorney raised questions about his brother’s behavior in the months before the shooting. As KING reports:

"Are you aware that he (John T.) was increasingly psychotic in his behavior?”  he (Ted Buck) asked.

The jurors won’t decide the guilt or innocence of the officer. They are asked questions to determine whether the use of force was justified. It’s up to the King County Prosecuting Attorney to decide of charges will be filed.

The inquest is expected to conclude today or tomorrow.         

Here is KING-TV's report: