From a 2011 memorial to John T. Williams, who was fatally shot by Seattle Police in 2010.
From a 2011 memorial to John T. Williams, who was fatally shot by Seattle Police in 2010. Kelly O

Nearly seven years after Native American woodcarver John T. Williams was fatally shot by a Seattle Police officer, the slain man's nephew, Eagleson Williams, claimed he was wrongly arrested after a brawl broke out near Pike Place Market on August 28. Eagleson, also a woodcarver, was detained "on suspicion of obstructing officers," Crosscut reports.

“It reminded me of what they did to my uncle,” Williams told Crosscut after the incident.

While standing near Victor Steinbrueck Park, Williams, his brother, Thunderheart; and friend Tristen Bonneville saw a small brawl break out near Bonneville's car. The fight began when a woman and her boyfriend started pushing each other and two friends of the Williams brothers intervened.

The fighting stopped with the participants and several onlookers standing around. The police report said five people ultimately participated in the fight, including Eagleson Williams.

The Williams brother and Bonneville did not take any real part in the fight, all three said.

After the fighting stopped, police, who had apparently been summoned by an onlooker, arrived. Eagleson Williams said he reached into Bonneville’s car to turn off the ignition. Officers grabbed him and Thunderheart Williams, and roughly forced them to put their hands on the hood of Bonneville’s car, the three said. “I wanted to shut the car off and they assumed I was going for a knife,” Eagleson Williams said.

He said he had no intention of reaching for one of the woodcarving knives, which were located in the car’s center console.

In a police report obtained by Crosscut, an unnamed SPD officer claimed that Eagleson Williams had a knife in his right hand.

"Williams refused to obey … orders to stop and he attempted to walk away around the front of the vehicle," the report stated. "Officers physically stopped him but he refused to cooperate. It was determined that he no longer had the knife in his hand.”

Williams was handcuffed after an SPD officer pushed him onto the hood of Bonneville's car, according to Crosscut.

Bystander Devon Connor-Greene shot video of the incident and, in an e-mail to reporters, said police arrived after the fight and "without asking questions, they charged in and arbitrarily grabbed a young man." Eagleson Williams "appeared to be only an onlooker," he said.

Eagleson and Thunderheart Williams said they "believe they were singled out because they were the only Natives at the scene," Crosscut reports.

Representatives with the Seattle Police Department were not immediately available for comment. We will update this post when we hear back.


SPD detains Eagleson Williams, John T. Williams' nephew from Crosscut on Vimeo.