When John T. Williams was fatally shot by Officer Ian Birk on August 30, he had a blood alcohol level of .18, testified Dr. Aldo Fusaro, a medical examiner with the King County Medical Examiner's Office, on Friday afternoon. Attorney Ted Buck, representing Office Birk, emphasized that Williams' BAC was over twice the legal driving limit of .08 (Williams was on foot). Buck's motives were pretty clear to me—he seemed to be trying to reinforce the idea that Williams was a drunk. But this is an odd tactic coming from Buck. If Williams were drunk, that seems to weaken Birk's testimony that he was an immediate threat. Drunks aren't known for their heightened reflexes.

Then again, Fusaro says that Williams wasn't that impaired. "In the realm of things, [Williams' BAC was] not all that high," he testified.

I expected to hear more detailed questioning about Williams reported hearing loss—which was mentioned on day two of the public inquest:

Attorney Ted Buck: Did the Medical examiner’s report mention hearing problems?
Detective Jeff Mudd (lead homicide investigator): “We looked specifically for that item and we did not see that.”

But Williams' deafness wasn't called into question at all. Instead, attorney Miranda Young, who's representing the King County Prosecutor's office—which could press criminal charges against Birk—explored through her line of questioning the explosive damage done by Seattle Police Department bullets. The bullets are designed to mushroom on impact. The jury saw images of what they did to Williams when they entered the right side of his body. We saw pictures of the bullet extracted from Williams' heart. It was horrifying; It resembled a piece of popcorn.

Fusaro stated these bullets are "manufactured to slow down and not exit," apparently so they won't travel straight through someone and hit someone else. Of course, the other thing that happens with expanding bullets is that they cause more damage to the person they hit. They're not designed to come out cleanly.

Young: "Does that mean that if it mushrooms more, it may cause more damage in the body?"
Fusaro: "It may mean that."

Fusaro also stated that Williams was shot "through both ventricles of the heart," and that, not shockingly, Williams would likely not have survived if he had gotten immediate medical aid.

Buck also asked about Williams' tattoos—specifically, he asked Fusaro to speculate on why Williams would have them. Fusaro said that he imagined people get tattoos for a variety of reasons. Buck then asked why Williams was wearing “a belt but not through any of his belt loops." These questions seemed to me like a poorly-executed attempt to distract from the graphic images of the bullets and what they'd done to Williams' body. But it didn't work. It's hard to erase a picture of someone's heart with bullet holes through both ventricles.

The inquest continues tomorrow.

Past posts on the inquest, chronologically: people praying for murder charges, protests outside the courthouse, the first day of testimony, the second day revealing that witnesses never saw aggression toward the officer, Officer Birk on the stand, followed by inconsistencies in Birk's testimony, witness testimony that Williams was not a threat on day four, and SPD testimony that carrying closed knives in public can get you shot. Stay tuned.