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Version 3.8
Copyright 2001-2008
JusticeForWoody.net site last revised 1/17/06
fair use notice

Killing Reaction Cases Evidence Analysis Media Woody

Shooting Was Unprovoked

All of the eyewitnesses were questioned as to what Woody was doing at the moment the shooting started. The three police officers stated that Woody had had commenced charging Officer Parker before the shooting started. Neither that claim, nor the claim that Woody made a threatening gesture before the shooting, is supported by the accounts of the 18 church eyewitnesses. Most continued to watch Woody and the Police until the first shot was fired, which prompted most of them to duck or take cover.

When weighing the agreement of the eyewitnesses that Woody never threatened against the accounts of the three officers the following must be taken into account.

  • The three officers, including the non-shooter, have strong personal and professional interests in avoiding criminal charges against the shooters. The church eyewitnesses have no similar interest in the outcome.
  • The statements collected from the officers were contaminated by their treatment after the shooting: They were allowed to write their statements hours after the shooting in the same room, at the same time, unspervised; then admitted to discussing the incident amongst themselves prior to their interviews the following day. In contrast the church eyewitnesses completed their written statements before leaving the church, and all but three gave their interviews that day.
  • The accounts of the police on Woody's behavior immediately proceeding the first shot vary widely. The accounts of the church eyewitnesses are essentially in agreement.
  • The view of Officer Davies of Woody would have been significantly obstructed if we believe him that he was at the back of the room assisting people in leaving.
  • Although not all of the church eyewitnesses were watching Woody and had a direct view of him at the time of the first shot, it is possible to determine that at least 4 did, and their statements are consistent with the rest of the church eyewitnesses, some of who didn't remember whether they were looking at him at that time.

Here are relevent protions of their interviews. More detailed excerpts are found the Eyewitnesses Address Threat page.

Norman
There was no threatening done. I mean, he did not threaten anybody except himself. I didn't see him point [the knife] at any time except to his own eye.
Jane
I didn't see him move toward anybody else. Like I said, the knife got closer to his right eye ... He made no threats to the officers. He made no threats to anyone else.
Adelbert
Not that I saw, I would have remembered, I think, if he had turned in any aggressive way, and threatened them.
Tommy
I would not say that he threatened them. He was always threatening himself, threatening to harm himself. He wasn't coming at them with the knife like this. The knife was always pointed toward himself.
Polly
At the time of the first shot, he was standing to the left hand side of the lectern. At the time of the first shot he had a knife towards his own eye. He looked defensive, not offensive, if you know what I mean by that difference.
Sheri
(when asked what caused the officers to shoot.) You got me. I think it was the fear factor. I don't know how they were trained. I don't know.
Janis
After the first gunshot I saw his arm swung around. There were several additional shots fired.
He took the blade and made a gesture towards the
officers?  He walked toward them or moved toward them?
I'll be honest with you. I believe it was after the first gunshot.
Michael
The only act of aggression that I could see the last time I had repeating line, direct line of sight with him with the knife that it was held up toward himself.
Donna
OK, just before he was shot he had the knife ...
Up, definitely
Towards his head?
Yup ... yup.

page last modified: 2008-07-20