The killing of the gentle and beloved Woody was needless and senseless in the extreme.
In the first place, it is obvious from eyewitness accounts that, even denying the validity of Woody's asylum plea and considering him an intruder, the intervention of the police was unnecessary. Prior to the arrival of the police, Woody was seated next to Michael Italia behind the podium having put put away his knife. Using a cell phone, Michael was attempting to place calls for Woody so that Woody could verify his identity to those present. According to Polly Wilson, everything was going wonderfully well, and "everything was under control". Had the police not come, the worst thing that would have happened that day was the disruption of the church service.
In the second place, the police, having arrived, could have exercised any number of options to take Woody into custody without killing him. These options fall on a continuum, starting with the least violent.
- They could have cleared the room of the parishioners, secured it, then taken their time to explore options.
- They could have negotiated with him, to see if he could be persuaded to surrender.
- They could have doused him with the pepper spray each was carrying in order to subdue him. (Their pepper spray dispensers are designed to work at a range of 12 feet and greater.)
- They could have tackled him, using their billy-clubs to disarm him of the small knife.
- They could have tased him, in order to stun and subdue him (if they had bothered to bring tasers).
- They could have shot him in the leg in order to topple then subdue him.