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Screen grab from video of shooting of Williams by Seattle police officer

The encounter between the two men on a Seattle street lasted just 10 seconds, but it was long enough to leave an aboriginal woodcarver dead and a police officer facing an inquest.

A camera on the dashboard of Seattle police officer Ian Birk's radio car captured the moments leading up to his shooting John T. Williams, a member of Vancouver Island's Ditidaht First Nation, dead on Aug. 30, while an audio recording captures the entire interaction.

On Friday, a judge ruled that both recordings - video and audio - should be released publicly.

The 17 minute-long video begins shortly before the shooting, as Mr. Birk drives the downtown streets. As he waits at a red light, Mr. Williams crosses in front of his car, apparently carrying a piece of wood and a knife.

Mr. Birk pulls forward, then jumps out of the car and follows Mr. Williams off-screen, beckoning to him.

"Hey! Hey! Hey!" he can be heard shouting. "Put the knife down. Put the knife down. Put the knife down." Several gunshots are heard, startling a nearby pedestrian.

Within two minutes, another cruiser pulls up, along with two police officers on bicycles. All head towards the scene of the shooting, just outside the frame of the video. The officers discuss forming a line and approaching the injured man.

"We'll shoot him again, if need be," someone says.

In the audio, Mr. Birk can be heard several times telling both officers and one apparently startled bystander what he says happened.

"He had [the knife]out, he was carving it up, carving up that board with it open," he says. "I approached him and instructed him to drop it multiple times and he wouldn't do it."

Mr. Williams, 50, had lived on the streets and battled alcoholism and drug addiction. At the time of his death, he was living in supportive housing after spending time in hospital and a stretch in prison.

An inquest is scheduled for January to probe the circumstances of the death. While it cannot convict Mr. Birk, its findings can be used to determine whether the officer should be charged.

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