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#224409 - 05/27/11 02:13 AM Knife rights and five seconds to live.
Art_in_FL Offline

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
I try to stay out of the knife rights thing. As far as I'm concerned most of the arguments too closely parallel gun rights and there just isn't going to be any useful ground between the pro and anti sides in either case because all the arguments are rooted in absolutes and platitudes. I try to stay out of it but in this case I figure something might come out of it because no matter how doubtful I may be of abstract concerns and rights there is clearly something wrong here and how people see, and fear, knives has a lot to do with it.

The story in a nutshell is that John T. Williams, a native American woodcarver, and well known lush, in full form at the time, was walking across a crosswalk. He had a knife in one hand and a piece of wood he had been carving in his other. Officer Ian Birk sees the knife, gets out of his cruiser, pulls his gun and orders Williams to drop the knife several times, and then shoots Williams four or five times. Elapse time from first order to shooting is approximately five seconds.

Officer Birk then holds his gun on the motionless Williams as other cruisers and police arrive. They take time to form a ten-man 'stack' and then rush Williams who, as far as I can see, hasn't moved and is dead.

After the fact the knife, a folder with a three inch blade, is found closed and is photographed.

Watch the video:

Include short discussion and crime scene photo of closed knife:

An account that cover most of the same ground but includes a good photo of the knife presumably opened for display:

Discuss. I'll come back with my two cents worth. Please keep it civil.

#224413 - 05/27/11 02:41 AM Re: Knife rights and five seconds to live. [Re: Art_in_FL]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

One can only hope that this police officer is charged with 2nd degree murder.

#224417 - 05/27/11 03:53 AM Re: Knife rights and five seconds to live. [Re: Art_in_FL]
Phaedrus Online   content

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2193
Loc: Great Plains
Agreed. Crimes perpetrated by the watchmen are far more serious than those committed by common citizens as they're entrusted with the public good.
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

#224419 - 05/27/11 04:54 AM Re: Knife rights and five seconds to live. [Re: Art_in_FL]
juhirvon Offline

Registered: 03/09/11
Posts: 36
The officer's actions were found "unjustified" and was forced to resign but he wasn't charged with anything.
(one of the sources)


#224434 - 05/27/11 12:48 PM Re: Knife rights and five seconds to live. [Re: Art_in_FL]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3019
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Art_in_FL
Discuss. I'll come back with my two cents worth. Please keep it civil.

Not a lot to say here. If he wasn't threatening anyone with it lethal force was not justified.

#224439 - 05/27/11 02:02 PM Re: Knife rights and five seconds to live. [Re: Art_in_FL]
Adventureboy Offline

Registered: 11/18/09
Posts: 51
Loc: Peoria, AZ ,USA
What a Dumb @*s. Im sorry that is the only word to describe a cop who abuses his power and authority, not to mention the privelige of carrying a handgun. Dosen't he realise that crap like this is what gives police officers and sheriffs deputys a bad name?
Give what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose
Jim Elliot

#224440 - 05/27/11 02:21 PM Re: Knife rights and five seconds to live. [Re: Art_in_FL]
Jackpine_Savage Offline

Registered: 08/02/05
Posts: 73
Loc: Minnesota
What happened just prior to the incident? What was the call that the officer got and what had William done? If nothing then the officer was wrong. However I've been aroung long enough to know that the media doesn't always tell the whole story.

Take Care and Stay Safe.
It's a Jungle out there.

#224441 - 05/27/11 02:40 PM Re: Knife rights and five seconds to live. [Re: Art_in_FL]
JBMat Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 745
Loc: NC
What prompted the officer to stop Williams -

Was there a call about him?

Was he drunk at the time (well known lush) and was he threatening anyone?

Absent those two circumstances, the cop should hang. (Sister is retired police captain so ya know)

#224442 - 05/27/11 02:45 PM Re: Knife rights and five seconds to live. [Re: Jackpine_Savage]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1360
That's a terrible incident.
If the guy was on a crosswalk, and the blade of the knife was not opened, AND he had a piece of wood in the other hand, it's pretty hard to see how the knife poses any immediate danger to anyone. Whatever happened to a warning shot by a peace officer? And why does it require ten deputies to subdue one man who is shot and lying motionless on the ground?

The police have a very difficult job to do. But there needs to be a better balance in their response to incidents like this.

There is a phobia about knives in this country. It's weird - almost some sort of deep primeval fear. Maybe it comes from the ridiculous number of Hollywood horror shows that show people getting carved up.

Anyway - the takeaway is to be careful how you carry a knife in public. And perhaps avoid doing it near civic centers.

Pete #2

Edited by Pete (05/27/11 02:45 PM)

#224443 - 05/27/11 02:51 PM Re: Knife rights and five seconds to live. [Re: Pete]
Matt26 Offline

Registered: 09/27/05
Posts: 309
Loc: Vermont
Whatever happened to a warning shot by a peace officer?

For many reasons police never fire warning shots. The biggest one being that you have no idea where the shot fired "into the air" will land.
If it ain't bleeding, it doesn't hurt.

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