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Inquest begins in Seattle police shooting

Seattle, Washington (AP) January 2011

An inquest beginning this week in Seattle may answer questions about the police shooting of a man who was carrying a carving knife on the street.

The jury will hear evidence about the Aug. 30 shooting of John T. Williams, a 50-year-old Native American woodcarver, by Officer Ian Birk.

Birk saw Williams carrying the knife and said he fired because Williams didn’t respond to three commands to drop the knife. Witnesses say Williams did not appear to be a threat.

The King County prosecutor will use the inquest findings to determine whether to charge the officer. The police department’s internal review of the shooting also will follow the inquest.




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