pretend you’re a police officer. you’ve been on the job for about two, maybe three years. in the last year, a total of six officers in the region have been killed in the line of duty by totally deranged people. you see a man shambling across the street in front of you, holding a small knife and a piece of wood, but otherwise minding his own business. what do you do?
apparently, you shoot him four times, killing him.
seattle police officer ian birk is the subject of an inquest, regarding the shooting death of john williams, a first nations member, woodcarver, and known drunk. an internal review by the department has already found the shooting was not justified (yay!) and now the inquest will determine if formal charges should be brought.
i personally feel that no matter what the jury decides, the prosecutor will bring charges. he’ll feel pressured to. yes, you could argue that the current climate for police has put them all on edge (a killing madman on the loose for two days will do that to you) but if you watch the dashcam footage from birk’s patrol car, and hear the witness’s testimony, burk overreacted. and i honestly think he’s told himself so many times that he was right to do what he did that he believes it.
and he should be charged. murder, manslaughter, it doesn’t matter all that much. he overreacted, and he’ll do it again, and claim that his training is such that that’s how he’s supposed to behave. bullshit. five bucks says a more seasoned officer with a less itchy trigger finger wouldn’t have shot williams mere seconds after ordering him to put the knife down (that’s right. SECONDS. do a search for the video, you’ll know exactly what i mean.)
what i’d really like to happen, even though it won’t? for birk to stop lying to himself and admit that maybe, just maybe, he was a little trigger happy and needs more training and counseling. definitely counseling.