Abundant Eyewitness Evidence Survives
With all the forensic evidence having disappeared behind the wall of silence, and the Sorrell's report found to be a deception, the eyewitnesses remain the public's only trustworthy source of information about the incident.
Woody was shot in front of 18 civilian eyewitnesses. All wrote statements and were interviewed by the Vermont State Police on the day of the shooting, information which the Attorney General released in April of 2002. Woody was shot with seven rounds, one of which entered his back.
Kinds of Evidence
There are three kinds of evidence most relevant to the official justification of the shooting:
- Statements by church eyewitnesses . Woody was shot in the presence of 18 eyewitnesses.
- Statements by the three officers . Two of the three fired shots at Woody.
- the forensic evidence. This includes the ballistics tests, autopsy, and other artifacts.
Status of the Evidence
After concluding it's investigation, the Attorney General's office released packages of at least part of the evidence it had previously blocked the release of. The packages contain the transcripts of statements by and interviews with the 18 church eyewitnesses to the shooting and the 3 police officers; transcripts of statements by other officials who arrived after the shooting; and transcripts of the 911 call and a police call made before the shooting.
The state has continued to block the release of virtually material details of the forensic evidence. The ballistics and autopsy results still still not been released, and the disposition of artifacts such as Woody's shirt remain unknown.
What the Evidence shows
The eyewitness evidence collected by the State Police reveals a great deal about the momments of the shooting. In short, the accounts of the 18 church eyewitnesses uniformly contradict the accounts of the 3 officers, which Sorrell promoted to justify their exoneration. This can be seen by reading the excerpts of the eyewitness evidence that we culled from the hundreds of pages of documents, and can be verified in detail by examining the full transcripts reporduced in their entirety here. In addition, the Detailed Narrative of Events weaves excerpts from the eyewitness statements into a chronoligical narrative. This document is the basis for the much shorter Narrative of Events in the Justice for Woody Report. These narritives, solidly anchored on the eyewitness testimony, belie the version of events proffered by Sorrell's report.
Given what the forensic evidence would show were it available, one can guess why state has suppressed it so vigorously. In spite of that apparent coverup, eyewitness observations about the forensic evidence makes a strong case that Woody was shot after he fell to the floor.
Sorrell Reacts to the Evidence
On May 30, 2002, William Sorrell appeared on a call-in show on Vermont Public Radio. A caller challenged Sorrell by summarizing the evidence given above. Here is a transcript of the exchange. The audio of the program is also available.