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Complete Transcripts

What the Police Said to Woody

Sorrell's report describes Officer Parker as "requesting" that Woody drop the knife. Several of the eyewitnesses remember differently.


source:12/2 handwritten statement
The police shouted at him to drop the knife, when he apparently didn't respond, but became more agitated, there were two or three shots. I assumed this was not ammunition and was surprised to see him fall.
source:12/2 interview, p.5
Did he give any indication that he was surrendering or
giving up?
No, I think he.. I think he felt very endangered and that's why I think he.. he felt, uh ... no I don't think he did.
I didn't (the tone of voice) appropriate for speaking to someone who was psychotic and upset. I mean it was very loud shouts. And I don't recall more than I think they said drop the knife. (did they say that more than once?) I think so. I never heard anything aggressive coming from him ... I mean I think uh, escept I will kill myself.
source:12/2 interview, p.6
I think they said clear the room.
Did they engage the gentleman in any other conversation or
No ... no it was ... it was immediately was a very loud uh command.
source:12/2 interview, p.13
OK some words exchanged and the police officers?
Not exchanged, I don't remember him saying anything.
OK but the police officers ordered him ...
Drop the knife or something.
What time period ...?
I don't think more than a minute. I don't remember anything like asking him to get to the ground. OK, I think maybe he said drop the knife.
source:12/3 interview
they ran right for him.
He must have really gotten berserk up there, I couldn't see that. Because I tell you, they charged in there like that or like what ... I don't the third person came in ... I have no idea.
There wasn't a lot of dialog, definitely not. There was some interchange because I remember the police officers voice being very, very ... you know, booming. It was there. OK. But you know, he didn't respond to anybody there before. If you try to any kind of authority with him before, he'd just say "get away, get away."
source:12/2 interview
He kept saying "no, no, no" the police were coming forward. He had not wanted the police to come, he kept saying "you have to be my witnesses, you have to be my collective witnesses. When he got extremely agitated, I just kept hearing "no". I was focused on getting people out of the room. I wasn't looking at him. I just wanted to get my friends out of the room. I wasn't really looking at him. He turned and started to come forward. They were telling him to put his knife down.
source:12/2 interview, p.6
The only real thing I heard was for him to drop the knife.
Did he reply to that?
Well, he was shouting "No, no, no." And he was extremely ... I'd say at this point he was extremely agitated.
I believe the no, no, no was directed at them=84 He was doing this kind of thing.
Holding up his hands?
Holding up his hands. At the time they came in, between the time they came in and the time the shooting occurred, it couldn't have been more than a couple of minutes. It was very quick. It was very quick.
When they asked him to drop the knife, did he comply?
No, he never dropped the knife. He never dropped the knife. It was at his ... I never saw it drop. I never saw him drop it. I never saw him place it down. There was never any attempt for him to put it down. He was not complying with their instructions. There was not ... he wasn't listening to anything they were saying to him.
At that time he wasn't acting in a sane manner, so no, I don't think he heard the police. He may have heard them with his ears, but mentally, no.
Did he say "I'm not going to put it down?"
Every time they told him to put the knife down, drop the knife, whatever, he made no motion whatsoever to comply. If anything he was waving it in front of his eyes even more. You know, he's going to kill himself.
What was the last thing you remember as far as an exchange
between the police and Woody before the first shot?
Just to put the knife down, put the knife down, drop the knife.
And did he respond to that?
He was shouting "No"- now whether it was "no I'm not going to put the knife down" or "no, no"- you know- "I don't want this to happen" or "no, no, I have to keep talking", I couldn't tell you.
Mary H
source:12/2 interview
I think they were afraid he would do something to himself or one of us so he was talking very loud. I don't know if you'd call it yelling or not. But anyway.
source:12/2 interview, p.3
It was very traumatic and I can't remember any words that were said. I think they were shouting at each other ... at least the police. I was noticing the one who was firing, and I'm sure he was shouting, but I didn't get any words.
source:12/2 interview, p.4
I remember there was shouting, and there was shots fired. That's all I can remember ... I just thought there was some shouting going on."
source:12/2 interview, p.5
My impression is the man who was firing them was shouting at him at the same time he was firing.
source:12/2 interview
Almost immediately I think, the shots were fired. As they came forward, and then the shots were fired. I'd say a minute, half a minute."
source:letter he sent Dec 20
No attempt was made to reason with Woodward, to spray pepper on his face, to shoot stun bullets, or fire live bullets near but not into him, nor to incapacitate him as with shooting at his knees. These are facts.
Mary T
I think they were far enough away so it was ... and talking in the other direction so it wasn't a loud thing they were really saying so ...
So they weren't yelling at him?
They weren't yelling at him, that I'm aware of ...
source:3/25 synopsis
The police were talking to Woody so softly she couldn't hear what they were saying. The police were not screaming or hollering.
source:12/3 interview, p.6
They were directing him. They were ordering him to put down, you know, to put down the knife.
Okay. Was there any other conversation?
I didn't hear much else other than their voice. I think they tried to match his volume and you know, that must made him more upset. They were very directed in telling him what to do, not very many words. You know, just say this is ... you know, they wanted to get control of the situation.
How did Mr. Woodward respond to that?
He raised his voice. His volume went up and he backed away.
source:12/3 interview, p.7
Why were they moving forward like that, you know, it was like all three of them were moving forward and they weren't trying to , you know, to engage him in any way.
source:12/2 interview, p.3
He was saying "No police, No police, No police." And he had the knife up to his right eye, and he's backing into the right corner of the room.
source:12/2 interview, p.4
And they told him, put down the knife, put down the knife. And I'm trying to help this lady, trying to get her out of there. And all of a sudden I hear a shot and ...
I think the officer told him to drop the knife. At which point he turned the knife towards his eye as if he was going to point his eye out. He didn't drop the knife. He didn't go like this toward the officer, he did it toward his eye, his own eye ... and then the policeman shot.
I think they were saying, yo know, giving him orders. But what those orders were, I didn't hear anything that ...
Did you hear him respond?
No, he didn't say yes or no to anything. He was saying "I'm going to do this.." and he was saying to the people who were there, "don't leave, don't leave me." I felt that he was pleading, not with the police, but with the congregation, not to leave him.
And he said he would kill himself if they take another step forward and the police yelled you all leave. Leave now really shouted. And he yelled no, no, no, don't leave or I'll kill myself right now, and then it happened very quickly. Where the police moved up quickly. I hunched over because I didn't know what was happening, and I looked up= and the police had his gun drawn.
Put the knife ... yelling to him put that knife down, put the knife down, and he's yelling no, no I'll kill myself ... Don't come any closer. Words like that.
When a person told people to leave the building, Woodward became agitated and loudly told people in a desperate voice, "not to go". As the police officers approached Woodward he started yelling and. Backed up to the Christmass tree, threatening to kill himself. The police had guns pointed telling him to put the knife down but this had no positive effect on Woodward.
The officers,you know, told him to drop his knife. Told him to drop his ... the knife. You know, it was that kind of thing, drop your knife, you know. I wasn't really paying attention to what they said.
Did he listen to the officers at all?
No. It didn't even seem like he really recognized ... he seemed to be in an altered state, you know. I was almost like he had the whole things set in his mind, and he was just setting the whole stage, in a way. I mean, that might sound strange,
Did you get the impression he wanted it to happen?
Yes, That''s what I just said. That's exactly what I feel happened. That he created the stage theat he almost led it up to create what happened, that he almost wanted it to be that way.
So, that he wanted to be shot?
Yeah, yeah. It's kind of like that's what he was referring to, you know, that it's you know, that's what I believe it was a mental illness that way you kind of project that whole thing out, and then create it, and I kind of felt that's what happened, unfortunately.
I don't know if I'm imagining it, that the officer's voice was really clear in terms of telling him to drop it, and he had said it repeatedly/ It wasn't just once. He had said it more than once. (did the other officers talk or was it just the one?) I believe it was just the one.
Could you tell if Bob heard that?
Oh he definitely ... any healthy human being could have heard that.
Woodward ah ... got up from here and ran out to the front of the podium. You know, yelling no. No, you can't go. Nobody can leave or I'm going to kill myself. When he started yelling I'm going to kill myself they were saying no, no ah.. put your .. you know, drop the knife, it's going to be OK. They were trying ... they were advancing in trying to keep him from killing himself. ... Someone was telling the congregation that they must leave at the same time as they were telling Woodward to drop the knife.
He said the man was backing away from the police toward the right corner, 2 exits near the ramp. I asked him what the police officers were doing when the suspect was backing up. He said he thinks they took one or two steps forward before stopping, then shouting for the man to drop the knife. He said the next thing that happened was the shot. Yes, "drop the knife" numerous times to drop the knife. I asked how many times, maybe six.
They were trying to be reasonable. They were not shouting or ... they were trying to .... All's I can say is that they were trying to calm him down. I can't remember what they were saying. And he had this knife in front of his eye, threatening suicide.
I didn't sit there and count them. This unfolded fairly quickly. I didn't expect to see guns come out, quite frankly, and the next thing I knew, one of the officers had taken a gun and put it behind his back and kept talking to him.
He was trying to talk him into quitting, you know, just give himself up.
I mean the tone it seemed to me was you know, give yourself up, do something which you're not doing. I don't, I can't recall hearing specific.
Were any of the other officers saying anything to him?
I don't think so, it moved very quickly from when the gun was pulled and they started walking, suddenly the other men, and th next thing I knew they were shooting the guy. It was very one, two, three.
And uh, he (the officer) moved forward, there was minimal conversation and the next thing I knew, they were shooting.
The police were not shouting, they were saying put the knife down.
source:12/2 interview
I remember looking at the police officer that was holding the gun, and to me he looked like he was a little disassociated, to me he looked like he was a little traumatized himself.
source:12/2 interview
Remember the exchanges between the officers and Woody?
There was very little
source:12/2 interview
But I don't remember the police officer saying anything more other than "drop the knife. And that's probably what concerns me. I felt like there could have been more potential for verbal de-escalation.
source:12/2 interview
When officer said drop the knife how did Woody respond?
He did have the knife up to his eye. (Did he move it, did he look like he was going to use it, (etc)) There was a potential that I think he, like I said, he was holding it back up to his right eye which is what he had done one time before the police officers arrived, which really scared a lot of people in the church.
When the officers told him to drop the knife, did he 
get more agitated (etc)?
He definitely brought the knife blade closer to his eye. There was definitely more of a pressure to his speech.
How did he respond to "drop the knife?
Best I can recall was, he said "No, I'm not going to. He just insisted he was going to hurt himself. I don't remember him saying anything else. He made no threats to the officers. He made no threats to anyone else.
Were you in a position that if he did make any threats you
could have heard?
Of course, cause I was only ten feet away if that. I was in the first row by the right in the center of the podium. And immediately to my Left was the officer with the gun.
"yelling competition"
source:12/3 interview
The police officer is over just at the entrance of to the main part of the room. So directly to my right, and he said "I'm here to ..." he didn't say "I'm here to help you" but he said something to the effect that "I was called here and you need to come along now, We have to.. we'll help you but we need to get you out of here. This isn't the way to help yourself."
That's what the police officer said?
Yeah, he said something, he was just, he was extremely helpful. I mean, he was very calm, you know. My brother in law is a police officer but then again, I'm kind of liberal so I'm always looking to think that the police are going to be (can't understand) appropriate, but he really was. And he was the calming effect for us, for the congregation, for the majority of us and ...
source:12/3 interview
So this man is wild. He's not really moving but he's got such wild upper body movement that he's just constantly flinching and the policeman said "You've really got to put the knife down." He's still screaming "I'm going to kill myself, don't come near me and you go away, get out of here, you know, I want asylum." And so the policeman said "What's your name, bla, bla, bla. He said something. He said "I'm, I'm not leaving here, and I know it, I'm going to be assassinated." And they're saying to him, you got to give it up, you got to stop this, and he's not and they pull their guns and they said "Just give us the knife, give us the knife."
source:12/3 interview
First he was just totally offended that they were there ... saying to them, you know, "Don't come near me, I'll kill myself Don't come up here." And they were saying something to the effect, you know, "We're here to help you and this situation ... we were called in when this situation, we were called here, we were asked to come here., and you know, something like, these people don't want you here. There's a little more ... he took it upon himself to say "these people don't want you here. You know, you're causing a scene. You're causing a problem. That kind of thing, and he was saying "I'm here for asylum" and "don't come near me. I know you want to assassinate me and I've had threats on my life." And you know he kept going on about that.
source:12/3 interview
but the police kept saying to him, as simply as possible, "Just come with me, let me help you, let me help you." He didn't pull out his gun then or anything. He just said "I want to know what it is that I can do to get you just to come with me." You know, he was pretty calm. I mean, he was confronting him, definitely confronting him, but he didn't do anything to aggravate him.
Was the policeman moving toward him?
He stayed ... he stayed, you know, to the corner of that room. I could see that his modus operandi was to get closer but he didn't do anything in terms of moving towards him until the other policeman came.
And about how long were the police talking to Woody before
their guns came out?
Well the one policeman was probably there a few minutes before the others ... maybe like 2 minutes.
And he was talking with W while he was there?
Did he have his gun out?
OK, did W seem to be listening to him?
Well, he was listening. He was having a conversation. He listened to him as much as he listened to any of us.
source:12/2 written statement
The 3 officers approached him and were about seven feet away from him when one pulled his gun then followed by another. They shouted for him to put the knife down, which he did not do. The next thing I knew, 3-5 shots rang out and down Bob went, where he was subdued by the officers. This all happened very quickly, and took me by surprise.
source:12/2 interview
I think they may have ordered him to put the knife down. The man had then moved toward the left front of the podium about ten feet away from me. Within a few seconds of that, the officers, now joined by a third, moved to a position in front of the man, about 7 feet away from him to the left of the podium. The man appeared terrified, was still holding the knife to his eye, while continuing to shout that he was going to either be killed by them or would kill himself. The officers were directly in front of me and continued to order the man to put the knife down. I saw the officer to my left draw his gun and point it at the man and then I noticed another officer had drawn his gun similarly.
All this was happening quickly within a matter of seconds. I did not hear any attempts to reason with him. The man was incredibly agitated.
Did this gentleman say anything to the police?
I don't remember. I know he was screaming some things or saying things rather loudly again, it was the recollection specifically of what he said, you know. I don't know.
You cant recall specifically?
Ah, not specifically, a lot of the content of, of what he was saying had to do with I'm going to kill myself.
OK, did you hear them? Did the police say anything to him?
I think I recall hearing somebody say put the knife down. Yes, that, that you know stern kind of order, put the knife down.
Did you hear them say anything else?
They may have said a little bit more than that, but that does kind of stand out.
I was sort of surprised, it took me by surprise. (when the guns came out).
He was wielding the knife, it was held up to his right eye, I do not recall him turning the knife outwardly. My recollection was that there was it pointed at himself. Ah, and not turned outwardly. When they moved in front of him getting closer, ah, again my recollection is that they told him to put the knife down. I saw the officer on the left had side pull a gun out which sort of surprised me, so I , I really noticed that and then another of the officers pulled his gun out. One of the, the one to the right. And then within a few seconds, ah, it wasn't very long at all, ah, shots rang out.
Did you get the impression they were trying to talk 
him out of the knife?
I think if I have any impression it was more that they were ordering the knife out of him, out of his hand, rather than trying to talk him out of it.
Woody is quite agitated and yelling and at that point Woody was not likely negotiable because he was so agitated.


Marshall Holbrook
The subject was walking very quickly back and forth and in a circular motion. Officer Parker began speaking to him and advising him to drop the knife.
You know, he got upset I think, that we were telling people to leave.
I didn't engage the suspect. When we get up there, Officer Parker basically immediately engaged him and telling him to put the knife down and ha, so I let him take over as a primary contact. ... He was the one telling, directing the suspect to put the knife down.
He wasn't yelling, he was talking, you know, more than just a normal voice. I wouldn't say he was yelling, no, but he was telling him, you know, to put the knife down, or drop it.
Terrance Parker
source:12/3 interview, p.6
... what was the suspect doing [when the officers entered]?
He was standing in the far corner of the building, of the room, excuse me, with the knife in his hand.
source:12/3 interview, p.7
[ Officer Holbrook told him] he tried to motion to them to come out and nobody would leave. He said they're not coming, nobody will come, um, at that point, seeing where the suspect was and what he was doing, we determined that was the extent of the conversation, that we need to get these people out of here. And we need to, he's already, I assumed he had already saw me, he knew that we were there, and that was ah assumption because I had ah looked around the corner as he was looking in my direction. ... so we needed to go in and deal with the situation. Um, which we did.
source:12/3 interview, p.7
He was waving his knife around and he was talking. I'm not sure exactly what he was saying to people. What I meant by waving, he wasn't making slashing motions or anything like that.
source:12/3 interview, p.8
Did you ever hear him make threats to the congregation?
source:12/3 interview, p.8
(excerpted from a long narrative- a lot of ums and ahs taken out, too) I quietly and slowly walked forward and that that point I was able to say to the people, folks I need you to leave, would you all come this way and then we're going to leave, and the suspect was very upset with that and... he was very abrupt with his motions (describes W putting the knife to his eye and threatening suicide) I was trying to set a dialog with him that nobody needs to get killed, we don't do that, just come on, calm down, all the while telling everybody, folks you need to leave, please come with me, I was waving my right hand, please leave. And he's moving around, very quickly around... moving around in his space that hes in, in front there.. (describes W's threats and exhortations) I kept telling the people please come on you need to leave and I would walk by row after row people were getting up and starting to move. He was moving around the majority of that entire area that he had. I just kept slowly kept going forward to get myself between he and the congregation, and getting people to move. Once we got the people out we were hoping to get into a dialog. I went between some seats to get to the main walkway, and ... came to position about here.
OK as you walked through here, when you were stationed by
the main door, did you draw your service revolver?
I did not.
Was there a point when you did draw your duty pistol?
Yes there was. It was just before I actually entered the main walkway, so I was actually between seats, some empty seats that were there. And I drew my service revolver.
Did you engage him in conversation?
I just said, he said he wanted to di, I believe he said he wanted to die. I sad no, no let's sort this out, everything's going to be OK, we can. I was doing that kind of dialogue, trying to get him to calm down and also getting people out at the same time. So the verbal commands were.. also you folks need to leave, you know, you need to leave let us calm things down some.
Did you give him any orders on what to do?
I did not at that point.
What happens next?
Without warning and without provocation, he ran at me with the knife ...
When you drew that and it cleared leather, came out of your
holster, did you immediately put that on the suspect?
Did you hide your gun at all?
I believe I kept it down by my left side. I'm a lefty, so I, I was running and, and I just pulled it out and kept it by my left side.
Why would you put your weapon down by your side?
I did not want to agitate him anymore than what he was.

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