The man fatally shot by a Seattle police officer on the last day of August, John T. Williams, a wood carver and chronic inebriate, posed a threat to cops that month and his shooting was comprehensively justified, Q13 argues in a segment that ran at the top of the news last night. The announcer says it will “show a different side of John T. Williams that you have not seen.” Cut to the video:


“Fuck you, bitch. I’ll fucking kill you, all you police force,” Williams says during one of eight interactions with law enforcement in August.

Q13 also includes a comment from the attorney representing the officer who shot Williams. The investigation of Officer Ian Birk has found Williams was shot in the side (not in front), witnesses never saw him pose a threat (contrary to Birk's claim that he did), and the knife he was supposedly wielding was found closed. That attorney says, "John Williams’ behavior alone caused his tragic end; it also heaped calamity on Officer Birk. The evidence in this incident, however, shows that Officer Birk acted appropriately in the face of an immediate threat."


Williams looks like a delirious drunk in these clips, too weak and confused to be a threat. Even when he spews threats and expletives at an officer, his lack of wherewithal seems to erase any possibility that he's seriously plotting against the police.

And I'm not the only one who's unconvinced. Anthony Vicari wrote a letter to the Seattle Times, copying The Stranger, that begins like this: "Q-13 Fox News has solidified it’s role as the right-wing, ideological propaganda arm of the Seattle Police Department."

That's a familiar accusation. The rest of Mr. Vicari's letter is after the jump.

Q-13 Fox News has solidified it’s role as the right-wing, ideological propaganda arm of the Seattle Police Department. On Monday, November 29, 2010, Q-13 Fox News chose to run as their top story, a slanted hit piece to discredit and defame John T. Williams, the Native American woodcarver who was brutally gunned down by a rookie Seattle cop. The “news” story, made up of edited dash cam video supplied by the SPD, promised to “show a different side of John T. Williams that you have not seen”. The blurry and barely inaudible footage showed an inebriated Mr. Williams, on several occasions and minding his own business, being harassed by SPD officers. One video shows an SPD officer yanking a wood carving out of Mr. Williams hand an throwing it to the ground as Mr. Williams is heard pleading, “that’s my woodcarving!” The unprofessional officer is later heard in the patrol car making disparaging social commentary. At no time in this hit piece do you see Mr. Williams making any threatening movements or brandishing any weapons. Quite the contrary, the video shows a mild-mannered John T. Williams being singled out as a target for constant harassment by the SPD. Q-13 Fox News failed to provide any balance to this “news” story, rather, only choosing to air a sloppily edited dash cam video that had been “provided” to them. This “news” piece tries to stir up fear of Native Americans as being drunken belligerents. Shame on Q-13 Fox News, for they do not represent the people of Puget Sound and I encourage other local media to take a close look at Q-13 Fox News and their cozy relationship with the Seattle Police Department.


Anthony Vicari