City Hall

McGinn Clarifies City's Taser Policy

By Erica C. Barnett September 1, 2010

Mayor Mike McGinn, who spoke to reporters in his office today, explained why Seattle Police Department officer Ian Birk was not equipped with a Taser when he shot and killed John T. Williams, a Native American carver, at the corner of Boren and Howell two days ago.

McGinn said the city made "a conscious decision to not provide all officers with Tasers, but to provide them to officers with a certain level of experience and training." He said police chief John Diaz told him that other cities that have provided all officers with Tasers had seen problems with excessive use of force; just yesterday, a man died in Spanaway after being Tasered by police.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Chief Diaz said the police department has questions about Birk's initial account of the shooting, including his claim that Williams advanced toward him with a knife. McGinn said he did not know whether the case had been referred to the department's Office of Professional Accountability yet.

McGinn said that despite several high-profile instances of police violence in recent months, he still believes "Chief Diaz is the right man for the job."
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