Today, Omar Simon, a forensic chemist with Northwest Laboratories of Seattle, confirmed that the locking blade of John T. Williams's knife was faulty—when the knife was opened slowly, the lock mechanism "tended not to engage" but when it was opened rapidly or with some amount of force, the locking mechanism fully engaged. When the locking mechanism was fully engaged, Simon said that no amount of force he tested with could close it. He tested the knife on two separate occasions.
These are important details because Officer Ian Birk has testified that Williams was brandishing the open knife at him in an "aggressive" manner, which forced him to fatally shoot Williams last summer. However, the knife was found closed next to Williams's body, leading some to speculate that the knife snapped closed when Williams dropped it. A faulty lock could support that argument.
Unfortunately, when questioned by Melinda Young, an attorney with the King County Prosecutor's Office, Simon's testimony couldn't help clear up the speculation one way or another.
Young: Do you know if dropped on the butt, would it cause the knife blade to close?
Simon: No… We didn’t perform any of that testing, it would get into destructive testing and cause a certain amount of secondary damage.
Simon did say that if the knife was open at the time Williams was shot, "the blade didn’t impact the ground with any significant amount of force that could’ve damaged it."
Simon also pointed out that the knife had cement embedded in the handle, caused by a recent impact—damage done either during the shooting, when Williams dropped the knife, or mere days before.
He also confirmed, as Officer William Collins recently testified, that the knife could be opened freely with one hand "by putting your thumb on the knob and pivoting it open."