Editorial: Officer shooting of Native man threatens public's trust
"In the wake of the shooting death of a Native American totem carver, there has thankfully been an absence of the blue wall of silence. Seattle Police Chief John Diaz's conciliatory tone and outreach to the Native American community is critical as the investigation unfolds.

Diaz met with Native Americans and other community leaders earlier this week and promised a full and transparent review. That investigation ought to include oversight by an outside law-enforcement agency, a proposal raised by City Councilman Tim Burgess, who chairs the public safety committee.

The public is rightfully struck by a recent spate of confrontations between the police and citizens.

Williams appeared to be whittling a piece of wood when encountered by police, who said he was acting strangely. He was shot after he ignored orders to drop the knife and moved toward the officer. But it turns out that Williams, a chronic inebriate, had told people he was deaf in one ear.

It is not a crime to be homeless, poor, a carver or an alcoholic, as one community leader pointed out to Diaz. And as Interim Deputy Chief Nick Metz acknowledged, the police department's relationship with the Native American community is tenuous at best. Now is the time to rebuild it

The Williams case and the other shooting incidents will be investigated and judged on their unique set of facts. Regardless of the outcome, law enforcement has a job to do rebuilding a community's trust."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Police shootings threaten the public's trust (The Seattle Times 9/10)

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