Canada | Law | National

DOJ investigates officer's fatal shooting of Native woodcarver





The Department of Justice has opened a criminal inquiry into the fatal shooting of John T. Williams, a traditional Native woodcarver, by a police officer in Seattle, Washington.

Williams, who was a member of the Dididaht First Nation of British Columbia, was killed on August 30, 2010. The shooting was unjustified but the officer, Ian Birk, who resigned from the force, isn't being charged in Washington court for the incident.

"The Department was previously monitoring the local investigation and now that their review is complete, we will conduct an independent review of the facts to determine if the evidence indicates a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil-rights laws," a spokesperson told The Seattle Times in a statement.

Additionally, the department has launched a "comprehensive investigation" into allegations of excessive force and discriminatory policing in Seattle.

"Based upon information gathered during our preliminary review, we believe a formal investigation is warranted to determine whether there has been a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law," Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the Civil Rights Division said in a conference call.

Get the Story:
Feds investigating officer's shooting of woodcarver (The Seattle Times 4/1)
Justice Department to investigate Seattle Police civil-rights practices (The Seattle Times 4/1)
Justice Department to Review Seattle Police’s Use of Force (The New York Times 4/1)

Related Stories:
Editorial: Decertify officer who fatally shot Native woodcarver (2/18)
Officer who fatally shot Native woodcarver resigns from force (2/17)
No charges against officer who fatally shot Native woodcarver (2/16)
SocialistWorker: Inquest verdict 'damning' to police officer's story (01/27)
Gyasi Ross: No victory after inquest in Native woodcarver's death (1/27)
DOJ opens investigation of Seattle police after Native man's death (1/25)
Gyasi Ross: Native perspective on inquest of Native man's death (1/21)
Inquest split over fatal shooting of Native man by a police officer (1/21)
Police officer questioned over fatal shooting of Native woodcarver (1/13)
Inquest begins into officer's fatal shooting of Native wood carver (1/11)
Judge tells police to release video from Native man's shooting (12/17)
Officer waited four seconds before shooting Native wood carver (11/16)
Knife carried by Native wood carver was found in closed position (11/10)
Reports: Fatal shooting of Native woodcarver ruled not justified (10/15)
County orders inquest of fatal shooting of Native woodcarver (10/12)
Autopsy: Native carver was shot four times in his side by officer (10/6)
Board in Washington opens probe into shooting of Native man (10/4)
Justice Department monitors probe into shooting of Native man (9/21)
Mayor in Seattle calls officer shooting of Native man an 'injustice' (9/17)
Police department makes changes after First Nations man's death (9/16)
Editorial: Officer shooting of Native man threatens public's trust (9/10)
Police promise better outreach after fatal shooting of Native man (9/9)
Native leaders seek inquiry of police shooting of traditional carver (9/8)
Gyasi Ross: What are we doing about the shooting of Native man? (9/3)
First Nations in mourning after fatal shooting of traditional carver (9/3)
First Nations man shot and killed by officer was deaf in one ear (9/2)
First Nations man shot and killed by police officer in Washington (9/1)