The Seattle Police Department offered a firmer time line of the events that led to the fatal shooting of a 50-year-old man on Boren Avenue by Officer Ian Birk—a two-year veteran of the department—but few details on what led to the fatality or if it could have been prevented, in the end, called on potential witnesses to come forward with more details to help with the investigation.
"We don't know why [the officer] didn't call for backup first," said Deputy Chief Nick Metz. Metz also said that it was unclear if the man made any gestures or lunged at the officer before the shooting, but said that when interviewed, the officer believed his safety was in danger.
Metz said the officer wasn't equipped with a Taser. But even if he was, "We don’t recommend officers using a Taser [when approaching someone with a knife]," explains Metz. "A knife is considered a deadly weapon."
However, the knife the victim was carrying had a three-inch blade, which is legal under the city's municipal code.
As for more de-escalation training, "that works for a benign situation," says Chief Diaz. "It becomes much more dicey when there’s a situation with a potential deadly weapon involved."
In its entirety, from reviewing police footage, SPD says the incident—from the officer pulling over to the time of the shooting—happened in under a minute. The officer saw the man crossing Howell Street with a wooden board and a knife. He stopped his patrol car and turned on emergency lights, which activates the in-car patrol camera. SPD confirmed that the footage shows both the man with the knife and the officer cross in front of the camera and then go out of view, but the department has no footage of the actual incident. "We could hear through microphone, the officer tell the man three times to drop the knife," Metz reiterated. The man refused the officer’s orders. From approximately nine to 10 feet away, the officer fired four rounds. "The man went down, the officer called for backup, and officers arrived within a minute and a half," Metz explained. The man was declared dead at the scene.
Chief Diaz reiterated that the situation is still under investigation. "My pledge to you is to conduct a transparent investigation, and a complete investigation," he said. Chief Diaz then called on anyone who might have been a witness to the incident to contact SPD's homicide department with information.
This must be one of the worst ways to die:
A doctor involved in an "on-again, off-again" relationship apparently tried to force her way into her boyfriend's home by sliding down the chimney, police said Tuesday. Her decomposing body was found there three days later.
Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac, 49, first tried to get into the house with a shovel, then climbed a ladder to the roof last Wednesday night, removed the chimney cap and slid feet first down the flue, Bakersfield police Sgt. Mary DeGeare said. While she was trying to break in, the man she was pursuing escaped unnoticed from another exit "to avoid a confrontation," authorities said.
The president's speech is streaming live here.
UPDATE: Awkward at first, emphasis landing in strange places, but then toward the end he seemed to be getting subtly emotional, and said, "Our troops are the steel in our ship of state." Not bad. Not bad at all.
That's what President Obama will say in his Oval Office address tonight.
If you listened to our State Superintendent Randy Dorn announce the yearly state and federal student progress reports this morning, you’d be shit scared to put your child in public school: More than $1 billion has been cut from the state’s public education system, while there have also been cuts to after-school programs, cuts to boys and girls programs, cuts to YMCA programs, cuts to programs helping struggling students… cuts, cuts, cuts everywhere.
Dorn said these sacrifices have partly caused the ups and downs in this year’s Measurement of Student Progress (MSP)—which tests third through eighth graders—and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE).
As if middle-schoolers aren’t already struggling with overcrowded classrooms, fewer teachers, and puberty, the state has gone ahead and made MSP math tests far more rigorous this year. Dorn said that although he had expected mixed results with the introduction of new state tests and online testing, the results also reflect two straight years of cuts to the K-12 education budget. “We are doing more with less and expecting more out of our kids,” he said.
Seattle Public Schools appear to be slightly better off (.pdf) than the rest of the state, with students’ average scores nearly four points higher than the state average.
The Annual Yearly Progress scores mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind (which expects all schools to reach 100 percent proficiency in math and English by 2014) aren’t too smashing either—45 percent (968) of Washington public schools failed to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements. Fifty-four percent (1,143 schools) did meet them, which is only slightly better than previous years. The Seattle school district failed to meet AYP requirements this year (only 25 schools in the district hit the AYP requirements, while 58 did not). Seattle Public Schools Director of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Brad Bernatek says that the AYP needs to be about more than just meeting standards. “It needs to more about individual student growth,” Bernatek says.
When asked by a reporter at today morning’s press conference if student test scores should be used to evaluate teacher performances—a sticking point in the on-going contract negotiations between the Seattle teachers union and Seattle Public Schools—Dorn replied he was not against it. However, Dorn stressed that he was more inclined toward schools, not individuals, getting monetary rewards for improving test scores.
All of these people gathered in Washington D.C. on Sunday, and they had not one single fact between them:
Today, the city pledged to commit $30,000 over the next four months to the Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE), a shelter group that provides beds for Seattle's homeless, after the group announced earlier this month that it would have to close 11 of 15 shelters in Seattle due to lack of funds.
But the funds come with stipulations: SHARE must keep their shelters operational through December of this year, and work with city officials—and a consultant approved by the city's Human Services Department—to develop a financial plan with fund-raising strategies in order to address their seemingly chronic financial issues.
"We're working with them to improve their ability to serve Seattle's homeless," says Aaron Pickus, spokesman for the mayor. "Over the long-term, developing a financial plan will increase their capacity to offer beds to more homeless people."
In the short term, $30,000 dollars will allow SHARE to increase its capacity from 264 to 271 beds through December of this year, according to the mayor's office.
*This post has been updated.
Because it is what it is, I can offer no comment for this:
Washington (CNN) — In twin speeches laced with heavy doses of "I-told-you-so," Republican leaders in the House and Senate tried to convince voters Tuesday that America's success in Iraq is not because of President Barack Obama, but in spite of him.
"Some leaders who opposed, criticized, and fought tooth-and-nail to stop the surge strategy now proudly claim credit for the results," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said to the American Legion convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"One lawmaker rejected the idea that the surge would reduce violence in Iraq, saying — and again I'm quoting — 'in fact, I think it will do the reverse.'"
SurveyUSA released a poll today that shows Initiative 1098, which would create an income tax for people making over $200,000 a year, has 41 percent of voters certain that they will vote yes and 33 percent certain they will vote no. The rest are undecided. Republicans oppose the measure by a two-to-one margin. Obviously, this lead is small and could easily evaporate by November. If it does pass, however, it will raise over $1 billion annually for health care and education.
Meanwhile, Tim Eyman's Initiative 1053, which would reinstate a law requiring a two-thirds majority of the state legislature to raise taxes—basically a guarantee that the legislature can't raise any tax—looks like it will pass easily. Fifty-five percent of likely voters say they support it, while only 18 percent are opposed. It has majority support from Dems and Republicans, men and women, tops and bottoms.
And finally, I-1107—which would end the temporary sales tax on bottled water, soda, and candy—is leading with the support of 42 percent of voters while 34 percent say they would vote no. Most supporters of I-1107 are Republicans, self-identified conservatives, and supporters of the Tea Party movement. Combined with huge recent funding from the soda lobby, a misinformation campaign, big support from conservatives, and some support from handful of progressives angry that the legislature can't reform the state's regressive tax structure in the next 10 weeks or next session after the Eyman measure passes, I-1107 is almost certain to become law. The result will likely wipe out health care or education funding for thousands of poor people.
SurveyUSA polled 650 likely voters and the results have a 3.9 percent margin of error.
If you have been anywhere near a newsstand for the last couple of weeks (or if you've tried to read certain cluttered, anxious websites), you probably know that Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Freedom, has been looming on the horizon. Well, the wait is over: The Corrections follow-up is officially on sale today. Stop by your favorite bookstore and pick it up tonight, if you're into that kind of thing.
When federal prosecutors asked a judge this morning to sentence Canadian activist Marc Emery to a five prison sentence for trafficking marijuana seeds, they made an unconvincing claim: that this isn't about politics. Here's an excerpt from the memorandum that Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg submitted today to a federal judge in Seattle (.pdf):
The government’s case was investigated and prosecuted without regard for Emery’s personal politics, his political agenda, or the ways in which he chose to spend the proceeds of his drug crimes. We do not view those matters as particularly relevant to the offense to which Emery pleaded guilty, or to the determination of the sentence that this Court will impose.
This is untreated horse shit. To believe it, you would need to forget a now-infamous incident in 2005—an incident we won't forget, thank you—when the U.S. Department of Justice most certainly showed its motivation. Karen Tandy, the administrator of the DEA (an agency within the Dept. of Justice), released a statement about Emery's arrest:
Today's DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. [...]
Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.
Was Emery's operation illegal under U.S. law? You bet: In his plea agreement, Emery admitted selling over 4,000,000 marijuana seeds, mostly to customers in the U.S.
But the reason the feds are tackling his case with theatrics—extraditing him for a high-profile case—is clear. They were afraid of Emery's politics. They were afraid that fewer and fewer people believe in what the DEA is doing to pot smokers. They were afraid that all the money people spend on pot would go to fund a movement that is trying to end an ineffective, wasteful, inhumane, murderous drug war.
Prosecutors may succeed in getting a five-year prison sentence for Emery, but can't, in a few lines to a judge, erase their motivations. And they can't take back their candor in admitting that they are losing this political fight.
Through "dream mapping."
A few nights ago I got drunk and knocked on my roommate's door and confessed my attraction to him while he was lying in bed in nothing more than his skivvies. (It was dark and I stayed at the door so I didn't know that until after the fact.) And then I asked him if I could sleep in his room because our other roommate—whose bedroom is directly above mine—was having sex so loudly that I couldn't sleep. Which was true but it clearly didn't not make the roommate I was drunkenly confessing to's bed the appropriate alternative and makes me an asshole to the roommate who actually has a sex life. Not being able to sleep on work nights is sometimes a real problem, but one to be addressed with her, not used as drunken fodder to get into someone else's bed.
I feel pathetic and embarrassed for having thrown myself at my roommate, completely freaked out that I got wasted enough to do something I have daydreamed about but wouldn't do sober, but much more importantly, I think my behavior did not reflect active consent, trashed my roommate's boundaries and was generally creepy—all characteristics of sexual assaulters.
I am biologically female and if the situation were reversed I would commit a huge double standard because I would back any woman who did not feel safe continuing to live with a dude who did what I did. I feel like I should be held accountable and move out immediately though my housemate has told me he doesn't feel threatened and that I should stay.
Help. I feel like a total piece of shit for having done this and can't stop wondering,
Am I A Sexual Predator?
My response after the jump...
The one thing I have to give Beck's site is that it is way more attractive than the Huffington Post: Stories have clear headlines, and there is a little bit of text on the main page to guide you into the story. It's not nearly as complex as the Huffington Post, either (seriously: Have you looked at the main page of HuffPo lately? It's a spazzy, overcomplicated mess), but I expect that will change as The Blaze becomes more popular. But on the negative side of things (from a web design perspective), it's not really updated that frequently; only two new stories have been added in the last ten hours, and for a couple hours there the whole site was unavailable.
As Gawker pointed out, most of the "news" stories have something to do with Glenn Beck, and the main sponsor of the site is the Beck-endorsed Goldline. And as always, the commenters are fascinating: racist, proudly ignorant, and hyper-religious:
it is time. we get texas, alaska,the carolinas,virginia, any one island from hawaii, florida and a few grain producing states. give them the rest. they can live like they want and we can live like we want. (see me in 20 years and let me know how living in ‘community’ goes)
I learned everything I need to know about ISLAM on 9/11…
And, in a post on bed bugs:
Bring back the DDT and see those bugs disappear.
filth brings bedbugs, people coming into this country visiting, illigally, carry germs,bugs and only
god knows what else. This country is clean, In the 40-50′s bugs and childhood diseases were non-existen. now with all the border crossings, we’re back where we started
I know, I know. BUT.
Posted to The Stranger's Flickr pool by Invisible Hour.
He's running to be the next Democratic Congressman from Washington's 3rd Congressional District, which has the highest unemployment in the state, so he'd better be a bit angry and frustrated if he wants to match the feelings of his constituents.
Hence, Heck's latest television commercial, titled simply: "Mad."
They bully gay teenagers to death and then point to high suicide rates among gay and lesbian teenagers as evidence that our "lifestyle" is destructive. Every dead gay teenager is a win for them.
It's time to speak up, Not-All-Christians-Are-Like-That Christians. Get in their faces, not mine.
An incident last night in the Denny regrade, in which an officer fatally shot a man who refused to comply with a police officer's orders, is raising questions in comments and around the city—was this an excessive use of force? Couldn't the officer have used a non-lethal weapon to subdue this man instead? Does the Seattle Police Department need more de-escalation training?
Here are the basic facts of yesterday's shooting, as reported by the the SPD Blotter:
The officer noted that the man was holding a knife [and was whittling, according to other reports]. The officer thought that this was unusual and potentially dangerous behavior. The officer stopped his patrol car and made contact with the man. The officer instructed the man to put the knife down. The man refused and stood up to face the officer with the knife still in hand. The officer again ordered the man to put the knife down. When the man refused the officer fired several shots, fatally striking the man.
Seattlepi.com has more details.
It's worth noting that before John Diaz was sworn in as the police chief on August 16, the Seattle City Council presented him with a four-point letter highlighting the areas where the Seattle Police Department needs to make dramatic improvements. One of areas was in the department's training and emphasis of de-escalation techniques.
The council wrote that Diaz needed to "quickly develop and fully implement the most effective training available for minimizing and de-escalating conflict in encounters between officers and civilians."
How is that coming along?
"I know that's being worked on," says Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, a spokesman for SPD, referring to the departments plans to invest in more de-escalation training for officers. But he also notes that SPD training is all de-escalation based at heart. "Officers are trained to enter into tense and possibly violent situations, gain control, and diffuse that possibility of violence," he says. "Sometimes force is necessary to do that."
The SPD isn't commenting on how far away the man was from the officer when he was shot, or whether or not the officer had non-lethal weapons like pepper spray or a Taser at his disposal.
And from what we know, the officer appears to have followed the correct protocol.
According to a 2001 SPD's report on officers' use of force (.pdf), the officer wouldn't have been trained to respond to a knife with these non-lethal weapons (like pepper spray or a Taser). The report states, "It is recommended that officers meet force with superior force," meaning officers are trained, if they see person armed with a lethal weapon—like a knife—to reach for their guns. However, the report states that officers are also "trained to call for back up in use of force situations. This is done to prevent an incident from escalating to the point that a greater use of force may be required."
Given these facts, once the officer spotted the man holding a knife, he knew that he might have to employ his gun. But the man was whittling when the officer contacted him—not threatening anyone or posing any immediate danger—meaning the officer wasn't diffusing a violent situation. Why, then, didn't he wait for for backup—as the reports suggests officers should be trained to do?
It's impossible to know exactly what happened in this situation, and SPD isn't commenting further at this point. However, situations like this—minor incidents that escalate to death—would raise fewer questions if SPD showed the public that it was committed to investing in more de-escalation training, as council members urged earlier this month.
UPDATE: SPD is holding a press conference at 3:30 p.m. today to address yesterday's fatal shooting.
It sounds like someone connected with something:
I'm going to pretend—to stave off despair—that some poor custodian swept a discretely used condom up off the floor after Lady Gaga's concert in Minneapolis.
And a general note to my fellow faggots: You've heard the news, right?
The weak economy is crippling the government program that provides life-sustaining antiretroviral drugs to people with H.I.V. or AIDS who cannot afford them. Nearly 1,800 have been relegated to rapidly expanding waiting lists that less than three years ago had dwindled to zero. As with other safety-net programs, ballooning demand caused by persistent unemployment and loss of health insurance is being met with reductions in government resources.
The feds found a little bit of money to help close the gap—but just barely and only for now. But let's not fool ourselves: the government is broke and a lot of things we thought we could count on—five day school weeks, paved roads, federally subsidized AIDS meds—are on the chopping block. So we should probably stop factoring free-AIDS-meds-for-life in to our personal risk algorithms when we're making decisions about who we allow to "breed" our asses and how we allow 'em to be "bred."
Bonus safer-sex tip: Avoid anal sex with strangers who use the expression "breed you/breed your ass" and you'll significantly lower your risk of acquiring HIV.
The trattoria owner with the bedroom eyes holds forth on Bari, SpaghettiOs, and how to ruin an Italian's day here.
In other e-reader news, Borders has dropped the prices of two e-readers. The Aluratek reader will now sell for $99, and the Kobo Reader will go for $129, which is ten dollars less than the Wi-Fi only Kindle.
Several months ago, when Borders first announced they were going to sell the Kobo Reader in their stores, it looked like a great deal: It was a no-frills e-ink e-reader. Sure, it didn't have any Wi-Fi or 3G networking capabilities, but it stored a ton of books, and it looked comparable to the Kindle in terms of performance. That was back in the days when the Kindle was almost a hundred dollars more than the Kobo price. Nickel-and-dime fighting with the Kindle isn't going to convince anyone to pick up the Kobo Reader; the only way they could make a convincing case for the device now is to cut the price by half, but Borders probably can't afford to eat the profit margin on anything these days.
I've been back to the Warhol show at least five times. I will miss the haunted hallways where 20 of Warhol's Screen Tests have been playing, and I will miss it when the ads for love fear pleasure lust pain glamour death that have been wheatpasted up all over the city get postered over—because I have loved, dearly loved, the prominent sight, everywhere I go in this town, of Keith Haring holding on tight to his beloved Juan Dubose, both men naked from the waist. I can't think of the last time an art museum has so boldly disseminated a portrait of gay love all across a city, without even thinking twice about it or making an issue of the gayness of the love.
Kurt Cobain was a real person, and many people in this town actually knew him. I didn't, and I didn't relate that closely to his music, either. For that reason it wasn't easy to review Kurt, but I tried:
Kurt the art exhibition, like Kurt the person (and Kurdt the rock star, as he called himself), is complicated. One fan on opening day at Seattle Art Museum last week had been at the memorial 16 years ago; he'd loaded up his iPod with Nirvana to walk the galleries. But he wasn't satisfied. The songs, his memories, and the art weren't coming together.
Kurt is an exhibition of drawings, photographs, paintings, sculptures, videos, and sounds by artists from Seattle and around the world in response to Kurt Cobain's life, music, writings, and death. Would Kurt like Kurt? The question collapses under its own paradox: Kurt wouldn't exist if Kurt were here.
I have sympathy for the unsatisfied fan I ran into at Kurt and the others who will show up looking for some approximation of the other public gatherings around Kurt Cobain: the memorial, the rock shows, the invisible gatherings of nostalgia that happen in the minds of listeners every time his pleading/furious, pull-you-in/push-you-back-out voice plays in a bar or a cafe, especially in Seattle. Rock and art do not abide by the same rules, but they share some roots. Kurt is colder than Kurt because it is one step removed, and that step is death. Kurt knows how the story ends.
I'm not complaining—even though it's 57 degrees and pouring here in Seattle on the last day of August—just pointing it out. If one were going to complain, it might be about this:
Forecasters say the showers should taper off Wednesday and the sun could return Thursday before clouds move in for the Labor Day weekend in Western Washington.
Sometimes the internet brings us double-rainbows, dancing dogs, and funny grandmas with "dancing" dogs. Other times, it brings us horrible things that we cannot unsee. Things we wish we would have never-ever-never clicked to watch.
Like this girl. I hate this girl. She just ruined my day. My week. If you don't want your day (and week) ruined, then do NOT click this image. Don't do it. I'm telling you, do not watch this...
In an interview with the local Fox affiliate in Salt Lake City, Hatch stated his support and past work for religious freedom. "So, if the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so," said Hatch.
Hatch is a Mormon, though, so he doesn't understand the Constitution like real Americhristrians do. Real Americhristrians know that the whole "Freedom of Religion" thing is meant to be applied only to people like them. Duh.
In other news, a recent Newsweek poll found that a majority of Republicans believe that Obama "probably" wants to impose Sharia throughout the world. You know, if he gets around to it.
Tomorrow night, free! Come to the Hunter Gatherer Lodge on Capitol Hill. Drink, dance, and hear how city officials plan to stagger bar closing hours, beef up late-night transportation options, and improve safety on the streets.