Under orders from a King County judge, the Seattle Police Department Friday released dashboard camera footage of the August shooting of JT Williams, a regular among the homeless men and women who hang out on Capitol Hill’s streets and sidewalks. Ian Birk, the SPD officer who shot Williams to death, faces a January inquest into his actions.
While shooting occurs off screen in the released footage the audio picked up by the officer microphone reveals an extremely quickly unfolding incident in which Birk first contacts Williams and begins firing in only a matter of seconds. Thanks to the Stranger for posting the just-released footage to YouTube. Their posting on the newly released video is here. The Slog also earlier this week posted a short interview with another Capitol Hill homeless man who knew Williams.
This newly released dashcam footage may not be the only video utilized during the inquest. SPD has already released footage showing interactions between its officers and Wiliams prior to the August shooting. This video posted by the Seattle Times shows the interaction between officers and Williams after police were called to a report of a man staggering in the roadway near Broadway and Pine.
Neither video is conclusive but both leave you wondering if Williams was anything more than an irritation to the officers who dealt with him regularly. Watching them both makes the few seconds it took for Birk to decide to open fire all the more shocking.