Multiply Shot After Falling
While the state's conclusion that the first shots were fired after Woody began moving toward the lectern is contradicted by eyewitness accounts, so too is its implied conclusion that all of the shots were fired before he collapsed. In fact the eyewitness evidence strongly supports a version of events that Sorrell attempts mightily to hide: that the shooting started when Woody was cowering in a defensive posture, and ended after he fell between Officers Parker and Holbrook. Woody apparently attempted to run towards the door once the shooting had started.
This theory of the shooting is not only consistent with the body of eyewitness evidence, it also explains the state's suppression of the physical evidence. If Woody was shot from above about 6 times after falling on his left side as described by eyewitnesses, then the autopsy would show the direction of entry of most of the wounds to be from his right side. Powder burn and blood spatter analysis would also be corroborative, but there is as yet no public evidence such analysis was performed.
Interestingly, the police detectives only asked two of the eyewitnesses, Polly Wilson and Mary Hunt, whether shots were fired after Woody fell near the podium. These are two of the most elderly eyewitnesses, both in their 80s. In his report Sorrell cited the following quote from Mary's December 2nd interview:
|so they wrestled him down and he was down on the floor when the shots came.|
Alleged to be inconsistent with her March statement, it is followed with the following excerpt from Tommy Thomas' December 2nd written statement:
|Altogether there might have been six shots, some after Woodward fell..|
This paragraph, in the DIFFERING WITNESS RECOLLECTIONS section, has the effect of casting Tommy's statement as unreliable. In fact Tommy had a clear vantage point of the action from where he stood on the elevated ramp in the left rear of the room, and he continued to focus on the events throughout the course of the shooting. His public re-tellings of what he witnessed were consistent with, and in some cases more detailed than, his written statement. The police detectives did not question Tommy about his observation of shots after Woody fell.
Eyewitness Janis Chaillow included a chronology in her December 2nd written statement indicating shots were fired after Woody had fallen. The chronology was omitted from the summary of her statement typed by Detective Robert McCarthy, and she was not questioned about the matter in her interview. Her chronology reads as follows:
Entrance Bob at podium Talk to us - pass out slips Children outside We were being in small groups police moved in 1-2 shots fell to floor near podium - blood several shots police surrounded him left room
Janis' recollection pops up again in a response to the detective's question about the beginning of the shooting near the end of her December 2nd interview:
|... I didn't see him get hit. I didn't see the several shots. I just heard the one shot, pause, I saw him on the floor. You know, I saw those other shots, I saw him on the floor ...|
The detective did not ask Janis any questions about the order of events following the start of the shooting.
Jane Worley in her December 2nd interview said:
|I have to question the traumatic state the police officer was in then he delivered those shots. Because I didn't see how the other shots were inflicted, if the gentleman was turning over, if he started taking the knife to himself, I don't know. I don't know if that would explain the reasons why he received the other gunshot wounds where he did.|
The detective did not query Jane about these remarks. Rather he changed the subject to the moment when the officers arrived.
Tommy Thomas made a number of public statements that Woodward was shot after he fell, prior to his death on January 29th. His statements to Hartford Courant reporters Josh Kovner and Gary Libow during an interview in the sanctuary where the shooting occurred were perhaps the most explicit.
Responding to questions by the incredulous reporters, Thomas described in graphic detail what he saw. He said that after the first two shots, Woodward moved toward the entrance, which was at an angle to the direction of the policemen, and collapsed to the front and left of the lectern. Thomas described Woodward's position after his collapse in detail: He was laying on his left side, his front facing the windows at the front of the sanctuary and his feet toward the Christmas tree; he was curled up in the fetal position; and he was holding the knife toward himself, the tip adjacent to his right eye.
It was as he lay in this position, Thomas said, that the policemen fired the final fusillade of rounds into him while standing over him. Thomas described the stances of the two officers: One officer was standing to either side of Woodward, and each was pointing his gun down while firing.
Thomas expressed confidence that the autopsy would corroborate his version of events by showing that most of the bullets entered from Woodward's right side.
Thomas made other public statements about the final shots which, although less explicit than those to the Courant reporters, were captured on video or audio tape. During the January 20 town forum at the Quality Inn, Thomas said:
|And John Martin just indicated that he has information that the rest of us ... that seems to be contradictory to what the rest of us think we saw, and that is that there would have been no bullets entering Woody's body when he was lying on the floor, and if that is true that's news to what we thought we saw.|
Forensic evidence such as the autopsy, ballistics tests, and blood spatter patterns could go along way to substantiate or refute the theory that Woody was shot from above where he collapsed. Unfortunately such information has not been released to the public.
However, there were witnesses to such artifacts, and their observations tend to substantiate the theory.
EMT Patno drew certain conclusions from the distribution of blood he observed in the room. His December 16th interview contained the following exchange:
BP: And that was obviously where he got hit cause he was laying right there in all the blood. KL: Okay. So it was evident to you that there was some ... BP: that was where he was hit. KL: there was some ...
Sorrell's report describes Woody's wounds as
... four bullets in the right arm, one in the left arm, one in the abdomen and one in the lower back, ...
without disclosing anything about the positions of the wounds, the presence of exit wounds, or the direction of entry. Fortunately, several of the eyewitnesses and EMTs recall the wounds in much more detail. They indicate the abdominal wounds were to his right side and probably entered from his right, as predicted by Thomas. Ellen Mayo recalled in her December 21st statement:
|His right arm badly and obviously fractured, bleeding on abdomen, hands restrained with handcuffs. hands restrained with handcuffs. When I cut his shirt, I saw two holes in his (R) flank. Officer Davies stated he could not remove handcuffs because patient had not been searched ...|
Phyllis recalled in her December 2nd interview:
|I saw that his arm had been ... I saw open wounds in his arm ... I could see (an entry wound) in his flank ... so I was concerned about what was in the front, but I couldn't get him turned over because his hands were handcuffed.|
|When they got the handcuffs off, I saw another entry wound in his front, in his upper right quadrant. I never saw any exit wounds but there was a bullet over on his left side. It was just under the skin. It was just obviously right there. I felt if I could cut the skin I could remove the bullet. This arm had two or three, I think, bullet holes that looked like maybe one was an entry wound with an exit ... his right arm. His elbow was shattered ... he was bleeding profusely from that right elbow. The left arm was also shot.|
Jane recalled in her December 2nd interview:
|So I saw the gun wounds. ... There were three that were on the right arm. ... it was concerning to me is that I distinctly remember seeing two gun shots in the abdomen which looked like it was around the liver.|
These women clearly recollect that the two bullets in Woody's torso were on his right side. Moreover Phyllis' observation about the bullet just under the skin is very revealing. A bullet under the skin on his left side could only have entered from one of the two known abdominal entry wounds on his right side. It must have been that one of the bullets entered his his right side, traveled through his abdomen from right to left, then almost exited. Such wounds must be rare, since a bullet would be unlikely to loose it's kinetic energy just as it was emerging from the body cavity but still under the skin. But if his left side were lying on the rug when the bullet hit him, the rug could have absorbed the bullet's remaining energy through the skin without breaking the skin.
Other pieces of evidence that would be extremely useful in evaluating the theory would be the shirt Woody was wearing and the rug he collapsed on. If Woody was shot from above after falling, there would almost certainly be gunpowder residues on his shirt and the rug. Unfortunately the disposition of neither piece of evidence is known to the public.