Prosecutor says hands tied by state law in Birk case

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by CHRIS DANIELS/KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 17, 2011 at 12:24 AM

OLYMPIA – King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg cites Washington State Law as the reason why he couldn’t prosecute Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk.

Satterberg says he felt it was difficult to prove Birk had malice, when he shot and fatally wounded woodcarver John T. Williams last year.

The King County Prosecutor specifically cites RCW 9A.16.040, which gives police officers more leeway in incidents of deadly force.  Section 3, of the law, says  “A public officer or peace officer shall not be held criminally liable for using deadly force without malice and with a good faith belief that such act is justifiable pursuant to this section.”

State Senator Adam Kline, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, personally had problems with Birk’s actions, but not the law.

“The law gives the person some protection for errors in judgment as long as they are made without malice," said Kline.

He believes the law should remain unchanged.

“We don’t want that police officer to be so intimidated that every time he draws his weapon or her weapon even in self defense, or defense of civilians, that there is going to be a lawsuit or he or she is going to be fired," said Kline.
 

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