First Nation artist shot dead by Seattle police

0 Posted by - October 10, 2010 - Blog, Policy

Victim of police shooting John T. Williams

The Seattle Police Department has opened an internal investigation into the shooting death of aboriginal artist John T Williams, aged 50, a woodcarver from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

On August 30, Williams was shot four times while crossing a downtown street in Seattle. According to reports in the Seattle Times, a local police officer saw Williams with a knife from his patrol car. Audio recording from the police vehicle evidences the officer ordering Williams to drop the knife three times before firing four rounds. A recent autopsy confirmed that all four rounds entered Williams’ body from the side indicating that Williams was not facing the officer when he was shot. He was pronounced dead where he fell.

As it turns out, Williams was a known local wood carver carrying a legal 3 inch folding carving knife and was also deaf in one ear. It isn’t clear why the officer involved fired four times (striking him in the chest, chin and in the arm twice), or why the officer failed to attempt to subdue with other than lethal force.

The autopsy report also indicated Williams body was found with headphones attached to an AM-FM radio. His family has said that he was probably wearing headphones at the time of the shooting.

The death has sparked a series of protests and attracted the anger of local community groups and representatives from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nation in British Columbia. Groups are accusing the officer and department of racism and are fearful that there will not be full public accountability for what took place.

Concerned Canadians are being encouraged to contact their MPs to ask for the Canadian government to request public accountability in the shooting death. See below for email addresses for the Prime Minister and leaders of the major political parties in Canada.

Prime Minister’s Office:
Leader of the Liberal Party Michael Ignatief:
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe:
Leader of the NDP Jack Layton:
Leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May:

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