The Civil Case
The Woodwards' Wrongful Death Lawsuit
On Monday, January 21, 2002 Woody's family announced the filing of a lawsuit against the shooting officers and the town of Brattleboro for the death of Woody, citing the refusal by officials to honor their requests for information about the killing. The lawsuit was announced at a press conference in Brattleboro, which was attended by, among others, Woody's parents, Paul and Joanne Woodward; his sister, Jill Woodward DeBrady; their attorneys, Joel Faxon of Bridgeport, Conneticuit, and Thomas Costello of Brattleboro; a number of Woody's friends from Massachusetts and Connecticut, two Windham County legislators -- Reps. Michael Obuchowski, D-Rockingham, and Steve Darrow, D-Putney -- who pressed the Governor to appoint a special prosecutor; several other Brattleboro citizens; and a number of print and broadcast reporters. Attorneys Faxon and Costello both made opening statements which invoked the speech by Robert F. Kennedy in Indianapolis on the evening of the day Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated. The attorneys went on to point out the fatal flaw in the state's investigation: The State Police press release on December 3, one day after the shooting, which pre-judged the outcome of the investigation.
Joanne Woodward delivered a tribute to Woody that mentioned his work with special needs children and his care for his grandparents. Paul Woodward said at the conference: "We want the truth. That's about it. We want the truth to come out and we want some sort of justice." Paul's statement no doubt reflected a great deal of frustration with the refusal by authorities to provide the family with any of the information they requested about the shooting.
Two days prior to the news conference, the day that the intention of the Woodwards to file a lawsuit was disclosed in the Brattleboro Reformer, State's Attorney Dan Davis recused himself from the investigation. Davis had been heading the local arm of the investigation from the day of the shooting, despite the obvious conflicts of interest.