Sorrell's Report Omits Important Facts
The Attorney Generals's report omits a number of important facts.
The report omits words spoken by Woody that give meaning
and context to his actions.
His self-threats are are dissociated from his plea for sanctuary,
which is only mentioned briefly.
- The word 'witness' is never used in conjunction with Woody's plea, though he repeatedly stressed his need for witnesses.
- Woody's refusal to leave the sanctuary is cited without mentioning the explanation he gave to those asking him to leave: that he needed witnesses and was afraid of being led into another room by someone he didn't know.
- The report accepts as fact Woody's alledged apology to the officer he "assaulted", citing accounts of several medical and law enforcement personnel . Not mentioned is that none of the at least 3 shooting eyewitnesses also present in the room until Woody was carried out recalled him apologizing to the officer he "assaulted". They only remember saying he was "sorry for what happened" or similar words, without recalling he said "assaulted". The report does not explore the origin of the word "assaulted". Firefighter Shawn Hammond's use of the phrase "officer he assaulted" could have simply been a description of who Woody was apologizing to, influenced by an account of the incident given him by one of the officers, such as the one who led him into the sanctuary.
The report omits mention important actions and words of churchmembers.
- The report omits mention of attempts by parishioners to persuade the officers not to enter.
- The report omits any statements by parishioners that the situation was under control before the police entered.
The report omits troubling facts about interference with and delays in medical care.
- The report states: "The handcuffs were removed when requested by rescue personnel." Not mentioned is the fact that the officers refused repeated requests by the physician from the congregation.
- The report states: "Medical assistance was rendered promptly", not mentioning that the handcuffs may have prevented a physician and then rescue personnel from stopping the bleeding for several minutes, perhaps as much as 15 minutes. Nor is mention made that it was not until 43 minutes after the shooting that Woody arrived at the nearby hospital.
The report omits important information about
Woody's gunshot wounds and the cause of death.
- Information about the location of the presumably fatal wounds is extremely vague, described only as being in his "abdomen" and "lower back".
- No indication is given of the entry direction of the wounds.
- No indication is given as to whether bullets exited Woody's body.
- The gunshot wound to the back is mentioned only in the SUMMARY FINDINGS, and not in the DETAILED FINDINGS OF FACT which states only, "The autopsy confirms seven gunshot wounds." Much more detail is given about his scratches: "It also indicates an incision cut on his right eyelid and superficial linear scratches on the right side of his head and face."
- No indication is given as to which wound was the cause of death. The DETAILED FINDINGS OF FACT do not say a great deal about the cause of death: "Mr. Woodward died during surgery as a result of the gunshot wounds.
The report omits important information
about the conduct of the investigation.
- The report states: "Most of the witnesses and all three officers provided handwritten statements." implying that similar procedures were used to collect eyewitness and officer statements. Not disclosed is the fact that the officers wrote their statements the day after the shooting, in the same room, unsupervised. By contrast the eyewitnesses wrote their statements the day of the shooting before leaving the church, several relating efforts they made to avoid speaking with other eyewitnesses before completing their statements.
- The report relies heavily on characterizations of Woody's demeanor derived from interviews of certain eyewitnesses conducted by the Attorney General's detectives in March. Michael Italia's descriptions are heavily featured. Not mentioned is the fact that these interviews were neither taped nor transcribed, unlike the earlier interviews conducted by State Police detectives.