Police officer murders half-deaf, hobbling Native American man

Published On December 22, 2010 | By Georgia Sand | Articles

A few months back, John T. Williams was shot and killed by Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk. Mr. Williams was fifty years old, a chronic alcoholic, and was deaf in one hear. Julie Reisman, who knew Mr. Williams personally said he was far too slow and feeble to hurt anybody. “Every step that he would take, it was like he was moving a mountain.” Randy Lewis, a leader of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation said Williams was crippled with arthritis and hobbled more than he walked. Williams had a reputation as a skilled totem pole carver.

Mr. Williams was holding a whittling knife with a 3-inch blade (legal in Seattle) when he was shot. The video of this event recorded from the officer’s dashboard was recently released. This video depicts Mr. Williams slowly shuffling across the street at the 1:00 mark of the video. Birk begins to approach him from behind and first says “hey” at the 1:13 mark, but Williams appears not to hear and continues to shuffle along. Birk gives the final command to “put the knife down” at 1:21 and begins shooting less than a second later. Only 3-4 seconds passes between Birks’ first command to put the knife down, and the gun shots (by this time both Birk and Williams are no longer within the field of view of the camera).

“His body stance did not look threatening at all,” an eyewitness to the shooting told The Seattle Times. “I could only see the gentleman’s back, and he didn’t look aggressive at all. He didn’t even look up at the officer.” Indeed, the video shows it was Birk who aggressively approached Williams from the back, barked orders, then shot him within a few seconds.

Nevertheless, Officer Birk contends Williams was brandishing the knife in a “very confrontational posture” and that he feared for his life. It is extremely likely Mr. Williams may have been startled by the loud yelling once he did hear it. Most people would be. But are we really to believe that a 50-year-old chronic drunk who hobbled along slowly with a 3-inch blade was an imminent threat to a police officer? I don’t think so.

I think Officer Birk is a goddamn liar.

I also think cowardly policemen who quake at the sight of a slowly hobbling drunk and cannot control the urge to chase him down and execute him should be prosecuted for murder. We are told over and over by police apologists that these “brave” men and women put their lives on the line for us daily, but the reality is these “brave” men and women themselves claim that people shuffling slowly away from them, unarmed men lying on the ground, people holding walletskittens, small dogs and dogs running in the opposite direction cause them to fear for their lives.

For the police, even 86-year-old bedridden grandmothers and children who won’t take baths are terrifying threats requiring use of weapons.

They can’t have it both ways. They can’t constantly slam us with the vomit-inducing bravery rhetoric when time and time again, their actions show they are protecting only themselves, then resort to the “I feared for my life” excuse to justify shooting innocent, unarmed people and small animals.

Even assuming police are being 100 percent truthful about fearing for their lives under the great danger presented by disabled people, wallets, and people lying face down on the ground, it is instructive to examine what would happen to an ordinary person in similar circumstances.

People are by law allowed to defend themselves against attack by others (unless they are being attacked by police). One can generally escape prosecution for killing another under the self-defense theory if the danger was imminent, and one reasonably believed he was about to be attacked or killed. There is also the lesser known defense of “imperfect self-defense” in some states. Imperfect self-defense applies when one honestly, truly believed they were in imminent danger, but the belief was not reasonable. For instance, one may honestly have believed an 86-year-old bedridden grandma was going to leap out of a bed 100 feet away to viciously attack, and killed grandma out of fear, but this belief simply is not reasonable. The imperfect self-defense theory would allow for a manslaughter instead of murder conviction, but the killer would not completely escape punishment.

On the other hand, police tell some story about how the kitten was really coming to get them, granny was aggressive, they just knew the delivery boy was going for a gun, and the story pretty much ends there. They are usually subject to paid suspension (vacation) and subsequently cleared of all wrong doing. Many times, criminal charges never even make it into the dialogue.

I’d like to set forth the incredibly bold and radical proposition that police are people, like the rest of us. Yes, I know this is a very difficult concept to grasp, as some of society has been brainwashed to be a particularly horrendous bunch of cop suckers who assume, with no particular logical basis or reason, that police are super-human, possess angelic qualities, and as a matter of course, should be above the law they swear to uphold.

This is why if you defend yourself against wrongful arrest in most of the 50 states, no one will give you a gold star or applaud you for being an exemplar denizen of the land of the free and the home of the brave. Instead, you will be charged with resisting arrest, obstructing an officer, or some other nonsense of the sort. You see, it’s because the law assumes police are always correct. This philosophy inheres in resisting arrest charges. By making it a crime to resist arrest, the clear result is that police have the legal right to arrest anyone they want; it is up to the innocent to prove themselves.

This is also why it is a special, separate crime, when a person assaults or kills a police officer. If you or I were killed or assaulted, well that’s just a normal crime. But when you assault or kill a police officer, that’s equivalent to killing angels or eating fetuses. Thus, the legislature enacted special laws to make sure the angels receive better protection than members of the unwashed masses.

I wouldn’t think the idea that police are human like the rest of us is a point that need be explained. But again and again, I see that it is necessary. The existing legal system currently allows you to sue someone if they attacked you, assaulted you, or otherwise harmed you, and collect damages to pay for your medical bills and/or injuries. The same is the case if someone was the victim of a reckless driver, an incompetent surgeon, or an unscrupulous lawyer. Certainly, society has gotten a little too sue-happy (due to other governmental intervention and meddling), but the underlying idea that a blameless victim should be compensated for recklessness or negligence by others is a sound one.

But this reasoning doesn’t apply to police. Police frequently not only escape criminal prosecution, but avoid personally paying civil damages as long as they were acting “within the scope” of their employment. Acting “within the scope” of employment doesn’t excuse shoddy work by lawyers or surgeons, and does not excuse assault or battery by anyone else in society. Yet this works wonders for the police (and other members of government). All this is to say nothing of sovereign immunity, prosecutorial immunity, and other similarly asinine governmental immunities that repeatedly remind the rest of us we are not all equal under the law. One can only conclude that this is because police are better human beings than the rest of us. Why else would they be permitted by law to escape liability?

Oh here it comes, here it comes. I can hear it already. I already explained why they are not brave, and really protect themselves more than they protect the rest of us, but here’s another classic and inevitable one – “But they work so hard! They go through police training! They go through rigorous screening to become police officers!”

So fucking what? Police training is a joke compared to the twenty years of school and 3 years of residency doctors go through. That shit is pathetic compared to how hard it is to play Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 like Yo Yo Ma or to play Waldstein the way Horowitz does. But somehow I don’t think doctors, Yo Yo Ma, or Vladimir Horowitz get a free pass if they shoot some poor shuffling man 4 times for carrying a whittling knife.

Maybe you’re not a fan of Horowitz or Ma. Even so, if the reasoning behind immunities for cops is that they protect people and save lives, shouldn’t doctors get immunities? They should get even more immunities. They literally are saving lives and trying to invent cures with the practice of medicine, while joy riding in a Crown Victoria really is tangential to life-saving in comparison. Doctors don’t get immunities because they are human. They do make terrible mistakes, and must be held accountable when they do. The exact same logic applies to police, yet the legal system handles them with an obsequious, undeserved reverence that no other class of human beings in society is entitled to.

It is also far easier being an assclown with a gun and a badge than to be on the side of civil liberties. Certainly, Pete and Adam of Cop Block are not unfamiliar with wrongful arrest. Yeah, I’m pretty sure being in a fucking jail cell is harder than learning about how to violating peoples’ civil liberties, how to operate handcuffs and how to shoot kittens.

This is not to say I think everyone should be forced to complete 23 years of school in order to be in the medical profession, or that everyone’s time is best spent training in classical music, or that I am glad Adam and Pete were locked up because it proved how badass they are. But if we’re talking about difficulty - and the police apologists always do – they always talk about how hard the damn job is – the point is, difficulty is not a logically distinguishing characteristic that justifies the way the law treats police, or the way they treat everyone else. Job difficulty is irrelevant for everyone else if they kill, maim, injure or otherwise cause damage, and this is the way it should be for police.

So there you have it. Police are better people than the rest of us. You may think whatever you want, but the law says so, the police say so, and you will find out just what that means if you ever (god forbid!) resist wrongful arrest or dare to challenge the police. Accept that this is what it is, and be angry. If you are not angry, or at least opposed to such fundamental injustice, then you are complicit in your own enslavement.

How do police compare to the rest of us? (you can choose multiple answers)

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About The Author

Georgia (George) Sand received her B.A. from UCLA and her J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law. She enjoys beer, jogging, the beach and music in her spare time.
  • bernard elias

    Who let the pigs out? oink, oink, oink, oink, oink!

  • Ogre

    My prediction: Officer Birk will get 1 week suspension (with pay) and “re-training” in the proper use of a firearm. It will all be an internal matter handled by his pals. And the PD won’t even apologize to anyone, because they were “following proper police procedures.”

    How horribly sad.

    I have to admit, I LOVE the doctor-police comparison related to immunity. I’m going to push that one.

  • Jenn

    @Ogre – sigh. Yeah, sounds about right. It’s such bullshit. As if following proper police procedure justifies shooting an innocent person?

    I am prone to use the doctor example also, because the police/government ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS talk about how important their jobs are, how they are protecting/saving people, and why immunity is necessary thus. You need only point to doctors who fuck up big time and totally deserve to pay damages to the victim to show people why that reasoning is absolutely bogus.

  • GHOST

    http://www.policeone.com/police-products/firearms/articles/3085468-Video-Cop-shoots-deaf-knife-wielding-woodcarver/

    JUst some more info here in this link about that incident…

    Still say its a cold blooded killing

  • bernard elias

    So cool, calm that is cold blooded murder!

  • http://saynotocops.blogspot.com Edniv

    Absolutely revolting. Shit like this seems to be happening A LOT more frequently. Either that or I am just noticing it more. Anyway, I put a link to this article on my blog. Click my name to visit.

  • Jenn

    @Ghost – I started reading the comments and then had to stop. I think I should stay away from the PoliceOne version of things. They are fucking ridiculous. Who cares if he had 30 convictions? I’m bet they were for pissing in public, drinking in public and jaywalking probably. Because if it was for anything worse, they’d mention it. So I wish they’d just be honest, but that’s just too much to ask of a police website. JUST SAY IT. BE HONEST LIKE I AM HONEST. I said it in my article – I said the police are behaving like a bunch of whiny assholes and this Birk fucker straight up executed a man. They too should also just say what they mean – this man violated the law before, and was homeless, therefore he deserved to be shot, because that’s sure what it sounds like. There are few things more disgusting than feigned objectivity.

  • http://whentennesseepigsfly.blogspot.com/ John P.

    Ok… my question is, what exactly did the old man do that justified the officer stopping him in the first place?

    He crossed in the x-walk at the light.

    He was carrying a perfectly legal pocket knife, whittling on a piece of wood. Both lawful actions in Seattle.

    No one around him seemed to pay him any attention let alone act in fear of him.

    So what exactly did this guy do other than end up in the wrong place at the wrong time when he encountered Judge Dredd.

  • Dr. Q

    Check out this comment from PoliceOne:

    “So what’s the point of the article? That deaf people aren’t to be expected to know that you don’t hold a weapon in your hand when contacted by the cops?”
    — jcboston69, (Dec. 20, 2010)

    This commenter is supposed to be an actual police officer. He is supposedly a “public servant” who is employed to protect the people in his community, but he apparently doesn’t give a shit about the actual needs of people around him. He doesn’t believe that police are responsible for taking the possibility of hearing impairment into consideration when making decisions, yet he expects hearing impaired people to be able to follow completely arbitrary orders from cops they haven’t even seen.

    Once again, this guy isn’t just some random sadistic authoritarian anonymously spewing his vile thoughts in a comment section for fun; he’s an actual police officer who lives and works in the United States, possibly in your community, and this comment probably reflects what he truly believes and how he conducts himself during the course of his job.

    And he actually believes that if he charges at a guy who is not suspected of any crime from behind without first attempting to get his attention from a reasonable distance, then barks an order at him that he can’t possibly hear due to his impaired hearing to drop a knife that he is legally in possession of, then waits maybe a second, it’s perfectly fine for him to fill the guy with four fucking bullets in his side.

    What a sick fuck. I hope I don’t ever live where he “works.”

  • http://whentennesseepigsfly.blogspot.com/ John P.

    Why are y’all even giving those over at PoliceOne and Officer.com, et al the time of day, much less more attention than they deserve.

    They ARE the reason stories like this exist. its not folks like you nor I who are out killing, murdering and violating peoples rights each and everyday.

    Do you expect anything else beyond the typical comments from theses neanderthals?

    What they say, Its sickening I know. But so is the unbelievable amount evidence we have that documents their abuses and at any other site such as this one, Injustice Everywhere or my site, When Tennessee Pigs Fly.

    All that it will accomplish by going over there is getting your blood pressure up higher than it already is.

    Just ignore them, let them continue to rant, rave and high five each other when another one of their ilk murders again. Let’s keep the pressure on by informing the public, reporting abuses we see, creating blogs, web sites and other avenues of news delivery and make sure we link those sites to anyone who will listen.

    The tide is slowly turning, people are waking up to police misconduct and crimes and the opinion will turn against the police.

    So in the meantime lets keep doing what we do and let the neanderthals keep ranting and raving and forever entomb their murderous comments on the internet. So when reporters and other people begin doing their own research they’ll find them.

    And be appalled by hat they do find.

    Cops celebrating the murders of unarmed citizens who were doing nothing wrong.

  • bernard elias

    The way I understand it the cop knew the guy, knew he was homeless, deaf-hard of hearing and could not comply to commands. Cold blooded, premeditated, murder I think!

  • bernard elias

    John P, all legal acts three inch whittling knife, no one in fear of him, threatening no one crossing the street seemingly oblivious, which makes it quite clear there is premeditation in this murder.

  • Jenn

    @John P – nice to meet you. I will check out your site.

    @ Everyone else – thanks much for reading, and for your thoughtful comments as always!

  • http://anarchyinabottle.blogspot.com/ Danny (A)

    Brilliant article! And “cop suckers”. That had me crying with laughter!

  • Rich K

    Another awesome article Jenn. Though I must say I chuckled a little at “eating fetuses”. Anyway, I wish there were a way we could get some of these thugs into a civilized debate, but it won’t ever happen. They surround themselves with their badged buddies for high fives and slaps on the back for all the lives and money they’ve extorted over the years.

  • Guy Fawkes

    I don’t see why Birk didn’t try using a taser.
    BTW Jenn I disagree with you on Yo Yo Ma, I think in most circumstances he WOULD walk, just like OJ, Robert Blake ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Blake_%28actor%29#Bonnie_Lee_Bakley and ), and Claus von Bülow. While it’s not codified into the law like cop immunity, it’s pretty obvious the rich, and especially the rich AND famous all to often, just like cops, walk. When under the same charges and evidence Joe Schmo would be headed straight down the Hershey highway to assrape central in the nearest penal institution. In America it’s not one justice for all, it’s two. One for you(poor/middle class) and one for them (rich/famous/government).

  • Jenn

    @Guy – He probably didn’t use a taser because he wanted to kill the guy.

    This reminds me of Government Man’s layout of America’s caste system –

    http://youareproperty.blogspot.com/2010/09/we-put-you-right-back-into-caste-system.html

    He doesn’t mention famous people, but they are probably between the 2nd and 3rd levels. I still think police probably get away with a lot more than famous people. At least OJ went to trial. At least he got arrested and charged. Police regularly get away with murder with almost no personal consequences, and no criminal charges.

  • Dr. Q

    In Northern Virginia, they don’t even release the names of police when they murder people.

  • http://www.rashynullplanet.com/blog/ Matt

    “For rational people, this incident illustrates the compelling need to disarm the police…”
    — Will Grigg
    http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2010/12/were-fighting-war-civilian-disarmament.html

  • vad

    Add yet another recent incident to the set, where Long Beach, CA police killed a drunk man, Douglas Zerby, holding garden hose because they mistook the nozzle for the gun. In that case, neighbors called the police; four officers arrived at the place, but were too afraid to make contact with Zerby, so they were hiding behind the cover while waiting for the reinforcements, including helicopter. After about 15 minutes of waiting, Zerby, who had no idea that he was surrounded, pointed “the gun” in the direction of the hiding officers. In the next second, he was shot 12 times, since the officers were afraid for their lives, as usual.

    Remarkably, according to the what they said after the incident, during those 10-15 minutes Zerby was pointing “the gun” in various directions, including the windows of the apartment building. That, however, did not result in any action by the police. I think there can’t be a better illustration to the point that police does not even think about protecting anybody but themselves – if they indeed thought thought that Zerby had a gun, and he just “trained” it at the apartment window, wasn’t it the time to protect the person in that window?

    Another remarkable aspect of this incident is that the police chief, the shooting was fully justified, because officers felt themselves in danger. No mention of any error etc. This incident was also discussed at police officers’ own forum, offcer dot org, and dozens of police officers from all the US posted comments all starting with “Good shot”.

  • vad

    (corrected version; moderator, please remove the previous one, with two typos)

    Add yet another recent incident to the set, where Long Beach, CA police killed a drunk man, Douglas Zerby, holding garden hose because they mistook the nozzle for the gun. In that case, neighbors called the police; four officers arrived at the place, but were too afraid to make contact with Zerby, so they were hiding behind the cover while waiting for the reinforcements, including helicopter. After about 15 minutes of waiting, Zerby, who had no idea that he was surrounded, pointed “the gun” in the direction of the hiding officers. In the next second, he was shot 12 times, since the officers were afraid for their lives, as usual.

    Remarkably, according to the what they said after the incident, during those 10-15 minutes Zerby was pointing “the gun” in various directions, including the windows of the nearby apartment building. That, however, did not result in any action by the police. I think there can’t be a better illustration to the point that police does not even think about protecting anybody but themselves – if they indeed thought that Zerby had a gun, and he just “trained” it at the apartment window, wasn’t it the time to protect the person in that window?

    Another remarkable aspect of this incident is that according to the LB police chief, the shooting was fully justified, because officers felt themselves in danger. No mention of any error, and no regrets. This incident was also discussed at police officers’ own forum, offcer dot org, and dozens of police officers from all the US posted comments all starting with “Good shot”.

  • Jenn

    @Vad – very true. Rarely do I see any sign of remorse. The only time police express remorse for unjustified killings is when they get charged with a crime and have to face the victim’s family. Then they feign remorse to look good to a jury.

  • vad

    @Guy Fawkes I don’t see why Birk didn’t try using a taser.
    @ Jenn says: @Guy – because he wanted to kill the guy.

    Because he didn’t have one on him, so obviously as long as Williams was attacking him and threatening his life by walking away without an idea that his to-be victim has just arrived 10 feet behind him, the poor dear, scared to death, had no other choice. You know, they always say how they have to make split-second decisions.

    Look what Birk says now on the trial stand (from today’s news):
    ==================================
    Birk said that the second time the carver, who he thought could have been inebriated, turned toward him, he noticed Williams’ weight dropped said the man didn’t show any signs he’d drop the knife.

    “And at that point, if he had had the opportunity to take a step in my direction, I don’t think there was much I could have done to stop him at that point,” Birk told an inquest jury.

    “At that time I was not left with any reasonable alternative but to fire at Mr. Williams, which I did.”
    ===========================
    (“Williams’ weight dropped” – what does that mean? can somebody explain?)

    Remarkably, in all these stories and all these “split-second decisions” there’s never a single word about anybody other than the officer being in danger, so it does appear as if protecting themselves is not only their main mission, but their only one. I’ll be happy if somebody disproves this with some specific example, such as when a cop has actually protected somebody, anybody, maybe even with 1% of risk for himself. With them killing someone now on almost daily basis (yesterday, they executed a man right in his wheelchair in SFo), there sure must be the opposite cases, right? right?

  • Tim

    I hope this guy is happy, trigger happy cop, give me five to six rounds to shoot into this fucker and I will. You’ll get yours copper Birk peice of shit.

  • Keith in Seattle

    So, this cop has been testifying for two days now. He gave his story. Then a witness came out and blew his story out of the water. He’s done. He has already lost his job and is going to face some sort of charges. This is a good thing since the po po have gotten so far out of control here that it is not even close to being funny. We are constantly being called civilians here and this inherently is a huge problem as they are thinking like they are military and they could not be further from the truth. Anyways, thanks for putting up this site.

  • Jenn

    @Keith – thank you for the update. I’m glad he lost his job, but he really committed murder and should face punishment accordingly. If he was any other member of society, he would not have been given such leniency by the justice system – he would have lost a lot more than his job, as he should have, for committing such a heinous act.

  • vad

    > Then a witness came out and blew his story out of the water.

    Remarkably, when someone is caught lying on the bench, they also go to jail for that alone – contempt of court, in addition to the main offense. But it’s yet another privilege of the police officers – it’s common knowledge that they systematically lie on every little opportunity, but whenever they get caught, the only consequence is that they themselves drop the charges based on the lies.

    Speaking of “he lost his job”, nothing prevents him from obtaining one in the neighboring city. Two minutes of internet research shows that this is more than likely what will happen after the city pays the settlement and makes sure that not a single hair drops from the cop’s head. “Black lists” apparently exist only for the citizens, maintained by hundred million dollar “anti-domestic-terrorist” networks built on the tax dollars of the same citizens, or by insurance companies looking to get protected from insuring someone likely to file a claim.

  • bernard elias

    The video from the cops car clearly shows he pulled over shot the guy minding his own business and being a threat to no one. This cop thought he could shot who he wants, when he wants, for any reason he wants, because he is a cop, and that is how they all act.

  • Dugese

    If cops are trained to murder people that just makes it premeditated. The law should fry every single one of them that uses that excuse in a situation as obviously wrong as this. This officer was just looking for any stretch of an excuse, no matter how thin and even imaginary, that he thought he could get away with. That much is obvious to any reasonable person who watches the video and listens to the facts of this case. Hearing the cops try to back each other up in court with the ‘trained to kill’ nonsense every time they murder someone is getting repetitively nauseating. If Birk winds up only being convicted of manslaughter it would be a very scary thing for the rest of us who have to live in a world with these gun-toting trained-to-be-paranoid no-account madmen. It makes me think of the situation in Baltimore, MD recently where a cop shot a non-uniformed cop who was intervening in a brawl, demonstrating that anyone not in uniform is a target, and in rare instances they themselves pay the price, but usually it’s one of us ordinary citizens (the sub-class in their eyes, it seems). They serve little or no function than to give lucrative traffic tickets for victim-less crimes. After the first few pointless times, I don’t even bother reporting it anymore when I get robbed. Cops are worthless and dangerous. The best are highway bandits and the worst are murderers, and we sustain them at the expense of educating kids! As a society we obviously have a long way to go.

  • bernard elias

    Agreed. What kind of nation feels it better to fund a police state then educate its youth?

  • vad

    > If cops are trained to murder people that just makes it premeditated.

    Big contribution into this mentality was made by 9/11 hysteria and war on terror. FBI is spending tremendous efforts to teach local police everywhere that everyone is suspect, potential terrorist, domestic extremist, if you hear something, say something, and so on. Countless millions of dollars are being spent on training, on equipping local police in every 2K village with riot gear, building emergency centers, etc. Go spend 1-2 years in this atmosphere, and you will be seeing enemy in every bystander. Give you the gun, and you will shoot anyone who turned 5 degrees in your direction, because he _might_ attack you. Note how Birk says on trial – _if_ Williams decided to attack me, little I would do, so I had no other choice. But then he might say absolutely the same thing about _anyone_ without 10 feet from him – _if_ they decide to attack him, then… it’s already in his brain that anyone who _might_ attack him, certainly _will_.

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  • Evan

    Gotta say, when I stumbled on this website I rather expected to like it. It bothers me how police are put on a pedestal by some in our society; too many people act like a cop can do no wrong. But cops are just like the rest of us; they make mistakes, and occasionally even act out of deliberate malice. They are, in short, human. And that’s the perspective I expected to find.

    Sadly, it seems I was mistaken. If anything, the sentiments commonly displayed in the comment threads here (and even in the articles on occasion) are more disgusting than those of even the most determined police apologists.

    Do any of you see the irony in calling police officers murdering sociopaths while referring to them with slurs like “pig” and discussing how you’d like to kill them?

    Did any of you feel a twinge of doubt or unease when, while complaining about a legal system that relies on assumptions rather than evidence when prosecuting cops, you judged this man to be a cold-blooded murderer based entirely on a few seconds of video that doesn’t even show the act in question?

    Did any of you wonder why a man who “gets off on killing” would turn in his badge and gun voluntarily after this incident?

    To write off this officer as a lying, murderous sack of shit is just as irrational as writing off the man he shot as a worthless drunken bum. Both judgements are rooted in irrational hate, not evidence. Try to remember when you talk about police officers that you are talking about men and women who have mothers and fathers, kid sisters and baby brothers, beloved uncles and dear friends. They’re not demons; they’re human beings. If you refuse to extend them the benefit of the doubt, if you insist on treating them as some lesser species of human who deserves only contempt, you are doing the very same thing you accuse them of.

    I’ve worked security before, to pay the bills. Spent plenty of time working with police officers or wannabe police officers. Most of them genuinely wanted to serve and protect. A few, however, seemed mainly interested in bullying people, waving their dicks around like macho assholes, and relishing in their innate superiority over the “scum” of society.

    Now, I look around here, and what do I find? Basically the same thing: a bunch of relatively normal people who just want to do what they think is right and best for society, and a few smug bigots with superiority complexes who get off on hating and demeaning others, and doing violence to them if they think they can get away with it.

    Oh look, turns out cops aren’t some alien species after all.

  • George Sand

    @Evan – Evidence upon evidence has shown this to be cold-blooded murder. This asshole gave the victim THREE seconds to comply. The man was holding a 3 inch knife, and based on the video, was WALKING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. If this jackass wasn’t in uniform, if he was ANYONE else, chasing down a half deaf hobbling man, demanding that he drop a closed whittling knife, and shooting him in 3 seconds would be murder. The knife was found to be FOLDED beside him next to his body. If this isn’t murder, what is? You’re right. Murderers all have mothers and fathers, sometimes children and wives. So do child molesters and rapists. All rapists and child molesters have family and loved ones too! Boo hoo. Who cares? A murderer is a murderer.

    A murderer deserves to be judged, hated and demeaned. Instead, this guy got a fatty paycheck, and is roaming free in the streets. I don’t see how any sane or rational person can think this is acceptable.

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  • http://second-amendment.tripod.com/d2a Davec

    Speaking of Seattle, read the WA State Constitution, Article I, Section 24, CORPORATIONS are not allowed to have armed men.

    Seattle is a CORPORAITON and Police are ARMED MEN.

    NO WHERE in the US Constitution or WA C. are “law enforcement” or “armed soldiers” PERMITTED BY THE PEOPLE

    Ill bet your State is the same (other than WA)

  • jc

    We do not want any cop like that on the street at all….I have seen enough cops already! Fire them….if nothing else. May get more on this.

  • jc

    Satterberg should be fired too by the way.

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  • Pat

    I agree that cops should be held accountable. Unfortunately, the police, much like the military, are a ‘fraternity’. A brotherhood. When one (or several) of them do something morally reprehensible, disgusting, unforgivable (like this), the blue wall of Justice comes down and shields them and their compatriots. The same thing happens in the military: Need I mention all the violent war crimes American soldiers were responsible for during the Iraq War and the War on Terror as a whole? It’s the same thing: They’re ‘protecting’ our rights (or freedom), etc ad nauseum. The unfortunate truth is this: many people who go into jobs like the military and the police go into them because these jobs give them the LEGAL RIGHT to take a life. And they know that if they DO, the chances are that they’ll get away with it. “All that training” that police go through? All those screenings and tests and such to see if they’re suitable for defending and serving? You can look up online how to pass those tests. And these people that say that are assuming that all people are good and honest and would NEVER cheat on a test. Bullshit. A decent liar can pass a lie detector test. A decent liar can fake a personality test. It’s sick, it’s sad, and it’s true. I just hope that eventually things will get better, although I do not expect it to.

  • vad

    @Pat says: “All those screenings and tests and such to see if they’re suitable for defending and serving? ”

    I wonder, if “defending and serving” is even the priority today. There were numerous rulings of all kinds of courts that the police does not actually protect anyone. Their mission is to enforce the law, hence Law Enforcement Officers. Granted, sometimes, even often, this will coincide with protecting; but then sometimes it will run counter. CATO Institute has an excellent article on their website about how prosecuting for crime without malice has become the norm, i.e. legal system is now increasingly putting in jail for essentially violating bureaucratic regulations. Absolutely nothing in common with defending anyone.

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  • GreyGeek

    The net result of these incidents is that the taxpayer ends up paying millions for the wrongful and illegal actions of poorly trained or vetted police. What should happen, besides the prosecution of the policeman for murder, is that his superiors should also be charged or fired because they put that psychopath on the street with a gun. The the supervisors, right up the the chief of police had their jobs on the line for the behavior of the police they hire and train, they’d do a better job.

  • stk33

    @GreyGeek , you are forgetting about the liability insurance of the city – it’s quite likely that that is who pays the bill. Maybe not the total amount, but substantial.

    In a way, this means that incidents like this are even positive news so some involved parties – brings in more business.

  • vad

    This is an old article already, but I just re-read the comments, and I think I will add somewhat different angle, kind of reasoning why there are indeed reasons to indeed treat the police differently.

    It’s because the police, by the virtue of their job, has far more probability to encounter conflicts. If someone is working in the office, how many unfriendly encounters with strangers he/she will encounter per year? 1-2, I guess. Someone working with the people, like bartender, salesperson, etc, certainly much more, but still, whenever the encounter turns into a conflict, they will step out and avoid it. Whenever they meet someone hostile and dangerous, they will most likely do everything they can to avoid this person. The police, however is expected to do exactly the opposite, i.e. when all other people are trying to avoid dangerous situations and encounters, the police is expected to engage them. The result is, an average police officer will have more risky encounters per day than many people will have in years. From there it becomes simple arithmetic.

    Sure, we can say “but isn’t this their job, isn’t this what they are paid for.” True, but now tell me, in your own job, how many mistakes have you made in the last year? I’m sure there were some. What were the consequences? Depending on where you work, it could be lost sales, defective product, unhappy customers, failed scientific experiment, non-winning the Oscar for your movie, and so on. Now, assuming that police officer is human being and as such is also expected to make some mistakes, despite all the training and experience – what do you think will be the consequences of his?

    In somewhat controversial way, you have to admit that for the police officer these unhappy encounters with unfriendly individuals are profession, then, as uncomfortable as this thought is, the potential of mistakes by the police can’t be expected to be much different from mistakes in any other profession – it would be naive to expect otherwise, exactly because the police is indeed the same people as we are.