-- list as of December, 2001 --
The killing of Woody in light of the fact that he threatened only himself remains incomprehensible to many of us, surrounded by numerous unanswered questions, such as:
- Why was Robert, who had no history of mental illness, did not use drugs, and was known for his calmness, equanimity, and rationality, in such great fear that morning that he decided to go before a church congregation to plead for sanctuary?
- Why were three uniformed officers dispatched to the scene when church president Charles Butterfield had requested plainclothes officers?
- Once the officers arrived, was Robert given an opportunity to surrender? If so, how much time was he given?
- If Robert failed to surrender immediately, why did the officers not then negotiate with him? Eyewitness accounts are consistent that the elapsed time between the police entering the church and their firing the shots was short, under 2 minutes and perhaps much shorter.
- Why was no such negotiation attempted given that one of the officers was trained in hostage negotiation?
- How is is possible that the officers could have considered Robert, a man of 140 lbs holding a small knife toward himself, such a threat to themselves that they felt compelled to use force against him; particularly when each was standing at least 8 feet away from him, outfitted in body armor, and presumably training their 40 caliber semiautomatic weapons on him?
- If the officers were convinced they needed to subdue Robert by force why did they not use the pepper spray each was carrying, stun guns, a body tackle, warning shots, or, if necessary, a shot to his leg, instead of resorting to lethal force?
- Why was the lethal force used by the officers so overwhelming? Had the officers used only 1 or 2 rounds instead of the 7 or 8 used his friends and family might not be facing the unbearable reality they are today.
- Why did officers continue to fire shots into Robert's body as he fell to the floor and as he lay on the floor, as many as 6 shots while he lay on the floor according to at least two eyewitness accounts?
- Why were these actions resulting in the death of Robert taken by two of three experienced officers all of whom were veterans with considerable experience, including, one would presume, skill in risk assessment?
- Why was Robert handcuffed after the shooting, and what roll if any did that have in impeding the ability of the doctor present to administer first aid to Robert?
- Why did it take 21 minutes to move Robert from the church floor to the ambulance after the shooting, as indicated by the timeline of events given that the ambulance was on the scene within 2 minutes of the shooting.
- Why did it take 22 minutes for the ambulance to transport Robert from the church parking lot to the Brattleboro hospital as indicated by the timeline of events when the route is less than 2 miles with few impediments, including only a single traffic light.