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Shake-up after Seattle police shooting

Seattle, Washington (AP) September 2010

Seattle’s police force is changing its command ranks to boost training and community involvement following an officer’s fatal shooting of a wood carver in a downtown intersection.

Chief John Diaz has named Nick Metz as deputy chief of operations and community building. Eight other commanders have been given new responsibilities to help fight crime while developing closer ties with city residents.

On Aug. 30, Seattle Officer Ian Birk fatally shot 50-year-old John T. Williams, a First Nations totem carver. Birk saw Williams with a knife and repeatedly ordered him to drop it just before shooting him four times from a distance of 9 to 10 feet. Members of Seattle’s Native American community and civil rights advocates have criticized the officer’s actions, questioning whether deadly force was necessary.

Diaz says his department will submit its investigation of the shooting to two other police agencies for an independent review. It also is reviewing its training procedures.



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