16 February, 2011

No charges in woodcarver slaying: Seattle Police above the law

It's not really surprising at all, yet it still sickens me that, once again, an innocent person is not only apprehended, but shot and killed, by a police officer. And there will be no criminal charges for the assailant. The entire case has been one long charade of ignoring the obvious: a man was killed pretty much for being homeless. Because, in this city, it's a crime to be homeless.

The notion that Ian Birk, a 27 year old police officer, with a gun, in broad daylight, in a public place, "feared for his life" is just ludicrous. He made the choice to approach the victim. He could have chosen to keep a safe distance if "fear" was the emotion he was experiencing. If an elderly homeless man carving wood causes Ian Birk "fear" then perhaps he was in the wrong profession all along. Perhaps he should work at Starbucks. Although they do have hot liquids there, so maybe that would be a bit frightening as well. Maybe at a yarn store. Though, if an elderly woman came in with knitting needles, there's no telling what he would do.

I don't mean to make light of this in any way. I just find it disgusting when our legal system allows the trees to obscure the forest. Ian Birk was unhinged and gun-happy. He shot the woodcarver because somewhere in his mind, he knew he could get away with it. And the fact that he had the audacity to do it in front of witnesses only demonstrates that the Seattle Police suffer from a severe deficit in the area of screening the mental health of their officers. If, on the contrary, our city has an unspoken goal of removing certain individuals or types of individuals from our society, that's a different story altogether.

I don't have a whole lot more to say about it, beyond what others have said. I'm just putting my vote of no confidence in our law enforcement and legal system out there for the eyes and ears of whoever happens to be performing a Google search on this sad story.