The City of Seattle has agreed to pay the family of a native carver $1.5 million in compensation after he was shot by a police officer last summer.

John Williams was shot four times in the chest by Seattle police officer Ian Birk last August. Birk said Williams failed to comply with an order to put down his carving knife, but a local art dealer said Williams was deaf in one ear and likely did not hear the officer before he opened fire.

The Seattle Police Department's Firearms Review Board ruled the shooting unjustified  in February, but prosecutors ruled no charges should be laid. Birk resigned from the force the same day.


Friends say John Williams, 50, was partly deaf and might not have heard a Seattle police order to drop his carving knife.

The Williams family expressed relief that the matter was resolved early without extended litigation. The cash will be divided between his mother and his estate.

"This is one step towards justice, but it is only a step. Nothing can make up for the loss of my brother," said Rick Williams, in the statement issued by the city.

Williams, 50, was one of the most talented members of a big family of carvers from the Ditidaht First Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island, near Tofino. He had been living in Seattle for 18 years, working as a carver in the Pike Place Market in the city's downtown tourist district.