Seattle police have offered different details of Monday’s fatal shooting of a homeless man by a patrol officer, with commanders saying they now don’t know if the man advanced toward the officer with a knife as police originally reported, reports the city’s Times. The man ignored three commands to drop the knife as the officer stood about nine feet away, leading the officer to believe his safety was in jeopardy, according to top police officials. Police Chief John Diaz said he has “a lot more questions than answers” after Officer Ian Birk fired four rounds at John T. Williams, 50, a wood carver who had a folding knife with a 3-inch blade and a piece of wood in his hands.
Diaz pledged a complete and transparent investigation by homicide detectives, to be followed by a firearms review board to determine whether Birk, 27, adhered to department policy. Diaz said an inquest hearing would be held to determine what happened around 4:15 p.m. Monday when Birk, with the department for two years, confronted Williams. The shooting victim was a member of the Chief Seattle Club, a day center and social-service agency that provides hot meals, health care and other help for Native Americans.