The following is a narrative description of the events surrounding the December 2, 2001 shooting death of Robert Woodward. Based upon documents provided to Justice For Woody by the office of the Vermont Attorney General, this narrative relies upon the official transcripts of the Brattleboro Police dispatcher in conjunction with statements and interviews taken by State Police Detectives from eyewitness, police, and rescue personnel. Distilled from the more comprehensive Detailed Narrative (available as an adjunct to this report or online at www.justiceforwoody.org), this narrative represents the first opportunity for the press and public to gain an understanding of the incident from the perspective of those present. Every effort has been made to provide a complete and accurate portrayal of events as described by more than twenty eyewitness accounts.
Robert Woodward pleaded for sanctuary at the All Souls Unitarian Church in Brattleboro, Vermont, on the morning of December 2, 2001. He entered the church, where he had never been before, and where he knew no one, at ten o'clock, just before the commencement of services, and went straight to the podium. He had a small bag with him, and a sheaf of papers, to which he referred as he spoke. He was out of breath and extremely upset. He told the congregation that his life was under threat from the CIA. He also indicated that there might be other government and military entities involved in these threats against him. He said he was "in danger," he had received direct threats of bodily harm, and that he was there to ask for sanctuary. He said he was glad he had gotten to the church.
Woodward, in spite of his agitation and fear, deliberately disclosed his full name, date and place of birth, place of residence, and a short synopsis of his biography. He explained that he had lived in Amherst, Massachusetts and now was a resident of Bellows Falls, Vermont. He said that he was employed in an agency that worked with troubled adolescents. He explained that his work as an environmental activist, the nature of which he mentioned briefly, had led him into trouble with the government. He expressed with urgency that he was being recruited to work for the CIA, and threatened with torture and death if he did not comply.
At one point he emerged from behind the podium and handed out a series of written messages to the seated parishioners. The messages were inscribed on blank checks from his checking account. The messages urged the Unitarian faith to embrace environmental activism. Suggestions about fuel conservation and public service were underscored with exhortations that these ideas should be promoted to other Unitarians nationwide. Some of the checks described his plight and pleaded for help.
As Woodward spoke, his evident terror eclipsed his ability to speak in an ordered fashion, and he began to jump from topic to topic, his voice projecting enormous anxiety. He impressed on the listeners that he had a statement he needed to read to them, and he detailed more explicitly the nature of the threats he said he was receiving. Witnesses recall that at one point he stopped speaking and put his head on the podium to collect himself and that he seemed close to tears.
The minister and various other congregants approached him, requesting that he stop interrupting their planned service, and suggesting that he move to another room with some of them. He verbally rebuffed all attempts to redirect him, and he continued to speak. Woodward's tone remained intensely agitated and terrified, which a number of people interpreted as psychosis or paranoid schizophrenia.
The children in the congregation were taken from the room, to which Woodward expressed no objection. A number of people left individually, and he did not react. However, when a member of the congregation (perhaps the minister, Deborah Mero, according to at least one witness) stood up and asked the congregation to move into the smaller chapel, Woodward produced a knife with a three and a quarter inch blade from his pocket, held it to his eye. He threatened to kill himself if he was left without witnesses. Though still highly agitated, he was specific in his explanation that his need was for witnesses to his statement and to events that might soon transpire. He abjectly begged the congregation to stay and help him.
At no time did Woodward threaten anyone in the congregation with the knife. Nor did he make verbal threats of harm to them. All eyewitness statements are in explicit and full agreement on these points.
The congregants had varying reactions to Woodward's behavior. Some have stated that they were frightened and left the room quickly. Some say they remained out of fear for Woodward's safety, considering his suicide threats. One woman says that she stayed because she felt anxiety for her own safety. Several others report that they stayed because they were not afraid and wanted to see if there was anything they could do to help.
Parishioner Jane Worley, a psychiatric nurse, approached Woodward and asked him to put the knife away. He then apologized and returned the knife to his pocket, continuing to beg that people remain in the sanctuary and "bear witness." He verbally assured the people that he did not intend to hurt them, and witnesses have described him as "polite" and "believable" in this. He apologized for taking drastic action, according to Worley, but said he felt justified in that such drastic action had been taken against him. The witnesses remain in complete agreement that at no time did he make threats to any of them. Some who remained until the end say his behavior made them feel threatened, but a greater number maintain that they never felt afraid for themselves.
Church President Charles Butterfield left the sanctuary and called 911 from a church office telephone. Dispatcher Renee White led him through a series of questions about what was happening in the church.
Butterfield informed White that an unknown man had entered the church and was "preaching gibberish." He told her that Woodward did not appear to have any weapons. Butterfield then relayed Reverend Deborah Mero's request for a plain clothes officer, explaining that Woodward had expressed fear of the police and would likely be "quite upset" at the sight of a uniform. White informed him that no plain clothes officers were available and uniformed officers were on the way. She dispatched to the officers that Woodward "had a problem with the police" but did not relay the request for plain clothes. Then, Butterfield, who was being updated as to events in the sanctuary by another congregant, Tom Baehr, reported that now Woodward was "making threats."
"To the people?" queried White,
"OK, to the people," Butterfield replied.
White dispatched the following statement to the patrol units: "Okay, apparently he's now making threats towards the congregation. There are 60 to 70 people in the building. Believed to have no weapons, not carrying anything." Moments later, Butterfield reported that Woodward had a knife and was making threats of suicide.
"Dispatch all units responding, subject is threatening his own self now and they are saying he DOES have a knife," announced White. A patrol unit asked White if anyone knew the subject's name.
"No, we don't know him," Butterfield answered.
White said, "Negative, it is not known to anyone there."
At that point, the police arrived at the church and the phone call was terminated. So the police arrived on the scene in full regalia, having been informed that an unidentified man who "had a problem with the police" was "preaching gibberish" and threatening 60-70 people with a knife. When in fact, Woodward had taken great pains to identify himself and explain why he was there, had clearly asked for sanctuary from the government and, by all accounts, had threatened no one with a knife except himself.
In the sanctuary, Woodward, no longer holding the knife, was being assisted by a parishioner, Michael Italia, while between 15 and 20 witnesses who had chosen to remain, were seated calmly nearby. Italia drew up a pair of chairs near the podium and Woodward agreed to sit and talk with him.
Woodward then made a renewed effort to explain his presence, and asked again for sanctuary. He attempted to provide verification of his identity and worthiness. He produced identification cards, and explained that he knew Unitarians from Connecticut and Massachusetts and felt that this denomination was the one that could best provide the sanctuary he sought. He promised that he would cease to criticize the Bush administration if the church would grant his request.
Parishioner Mary Hunt wondered if Woodward was aware of the All Souls Church's history of providing sanctuary to persecuted Salvadorans in the 1980s. Woodward asked repeatedly for a cell phone. He explained that he wanted to call people who could vouch for his credibility. A parishioner produced one and handed it to Michael Italia. Woodward gave Italia a list of phone numbers. Italia was able to call two of the numbers before the police entered the sanctuary. Answering machines responded at each of the numbers.
The second answering machine made a recording of the sounds in the church. When the number was dialed, the police had not yet entered the sanctuary, and by the time the message options were complete and the recording began, Woodward had already been shot seven times. Hence, it can be observed that the events moved extremely quickly from this point.
What followed is a point in the proceedings when events unfolded so quickly that the eyewitnesses have varying recollections of what occurred. In this moment of confusion, there are three events that certainly occurred in very close proximity to each other. One was that congregant Tom Baehr, as instructed by the patrol unit via dispatch, entered the sanctuary and announced in a loud voice that everyone must leave the sanctuary. Another was that the police entered the sanctuary seconds after this announcement. It is also clear that at this time Woodward became very frightened and upset, and backed away, once again placing the knife against his eye and threatening suicide. The point about which the eyewitnesses do not agree is exactly what precipitated Woodward's sudden increase of panic. Some say that it was the announcement, others that it was his awareness of the police. Some say that the knife came out again before the police came in, others say that the knife was already at his eye when the police came in. There is some variation in the witness observations of precisely when and how the police entered the room, as well.
Some witnesses observed that Woodward became aware of the police's presence prior to their entrance into the sanctuary, either through observing Officer Holbrook peering around the door, or through hearing people discussing the arrival, and that this was what precipitated his state of increased panic.
Perhaps the strongest indication that Woodward did not become extremely agitated until after the entrance of the police comes through the recollection of Officer Marshall Holbrook. He reports that he was unable to distinguish which of the two figures at the front of the room, one of whom was Michael Italia, was the unwanted subject. Holbrook says that at that time Woodward's hands were down and he could not see any knife.
Despite the varying witness recollections upon this point, it is clear that the police- ordered announcement that the room must be cleared, and their forceful entrance in full regalia seems to have precipitated a dramatic turn of events. Robert MacLean recalls, "When the police arrived and that just ... everything just blew up. A sight of a uniform just totally changed the whole character of the scene."
While Michael Italia was assisting Woodward, the police were approaching the building. The statements given by Officers Marshall Holbrook, William Davies and Terrance Parker strongly indicate that they did not find the scene the dispatch messages had led them to expect and that this puzzled them.
Holbrook reports that he thought it "strange" that people were standing around the entrance, considering that there was a man with a knife inside. Then, when he peered into the sanctuary, he says it was not clear which of the people inside was the unwanted subject. He asked a woman standing near the door to point out the man. Holbrook says that the man she indicated had his hands down and no knife was visible to him at that time.
Certainly, Holbrook did not observe a scene of chaos and panic. What he saw, according to his statement, was an unarmed man in close proximity to a number of people, none of whom seemed panicked.
Holbrook paused at the entrance to the sanctuary, awaiting reinforcements. He motioned for the seated parishioners in the sanctuary to come out, attempting to attract their attention without alerting Woodward to his presence. When Officers Parker and Davies arrived shortly thereafter, Holbrook expressed frustration to Parker that the parishioners had not obeyed his directions.
When the officers conferred briefly at the doorway prior to entering the sanctuary, they do not report having acknowledged or discussed that the scene was not what they had expected. But they all report being impressed by the calm of the parishioners. Parker describes the scene as "an afterglow," and noted that there was no crying, no panic. "It was extremely serene," he states. Davies recalls that he wondered if people were "in shock" because they "appeared in a docile or domestic state."
It does not seem to have occurred to the officers to make a renewed assessment of the risk level at this point. Parker describes that he did not "focus" on the room full of people, thinking instead "where's our subject?"
Nor had they attempted to glean any information as they proceeded from their cars to the building by talking to the parishioners assembled outdoors. By their own accounts, they only moved forward, ordering people to leave the scene. An individual who appears to have been the minister approached Parker as he walked up to the church, and, according to Parker, said to him " please be gentle -- he seemed like a sick man" to which he replied "OK, thank you, but you need to leave, please leave." Several parishioners later expressed regret that the police had not been briefed before they encountered Woodward.
In the sanctuary, Michael Italia wondered how he might engage the now significantly calmer Woodward, and considered whether asking him about his work with troubled teens might "redirect" Woodward. At that time, congregant Tom Baehr entered the hall and stated in a very loud voice that everyone must leave immediately. Seconds later, the police entered. The three officers fanned out, moving forward steadily. Woodward became significantly more agitated.
As the police advanced toward Woodward, his fear increased greatly, and he backed into the corner of the room, holding the knife to his eye and threatening suicide. According to witnesses, he shouted that the police had arrived to threaten, kill and torture him. The police moved forward rapidly, loudly instructing the parishioners to leave the hall. Some of the parishioners have stated that they considered the manner in which the officers approached Woodward to have greatly exacerbated the situation, noting that this was Woodward's "nightmare." Some said that it was clear that the parishioners' efforts had calmed Woodward, but that the aggressive approach of the officers "traumatized" him. One witness characterized this turn of events as "tragic." Another opined that this was "the worst thing that could have happened from the point of view of the man's mental state." No witness statements expressed relief at the rapid movement of the officers, and many expressed criticism that the officers did not try to "engage him in some way".
There is some disagreement on how loudly the police spoke to Woodward. Some say that they were "not shouting" but were "trying to be reasonable." Others recall "a yelling competition," or that the police were "trying to match his volume." When asked what they recall the police saying to Woodward, most witnesses say that if they heard any words clearly at all, they heard "drop the knife" or "put the knife down," uttered forcefully several times. Fewer than three variously recall hearing some consoling words such as "we're here to help you."
Some witnesses say they heard Woodward explicitly state his refusal to drop the knife. Others do not, recalling only that he shouted "No, no" and threatened suicide. Three witnesses conjectured that they believe that Woodward's intense terror or his threats of suicide prevented him from processing the sudden commands in a rational manner.
Officer Parker's account of his actions states that he "quietly and slowly walked forward," between two rows of seats, and halted when he arrived at the front of the center aisle. He recalls that as he proceeded, he addressed the parishioners, instructing them to leave. He also says he made many statements to Woodward during the advance, such as "nobody needs to get killed, we don't do that," and "just come on, calm down," and "no let's sort this out, everything's going to be OK." He also reports that he drew and aimed his service pistol as he came forward. All of these actions would have necessarily been effected in less than one minute, since that is the time between the entrance of the police and the firing of the first shot.
Interestingly, the recollections of Officer Parker do not include the one phrase the eyewitnesses heard him say. Parker was asked "did you give him any orders on what to do?" and his reply was "I did not at that point." Nor does he at any subsequent point in his statement relate that he told Woodward to drop the knife.
His account of himself as "slowly going forward" is also contradicted in a subsequent reply. When asked where he positioned the gun after he pulled it from his holster, he recalls, "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."
Both of the other officers state that they did not address Woodward, but that Parker was, according to Holbrook "the one telling, directing the suspect to put the knife down." After the lapse of one minute, the officers, with guns drawn and trained on the hysterical Woodward, fired.
The events that immediately preceded the firing of the first shot are the most controversial of the entire event. However, the division is shown primarily between the police and the witnesses, and not between the witnesses themselves. The police say that Woodward abruptly altered from his course of threatening suicide while pleading for sanctuary, during which he had been consistent in his non-threatening stance, and performed a dramatic charge with deadly intent, his knife aimed directly at Officer Parker.
Parker says: "Without warning and without provocation he ran at me with the knife he took the knife from where he had it, from his face he had set it, let it go down a little bit and then he just came running at me ... He had sort of dropped his hand and all of a sudden he started to run and that he had the knife off to his side running toward me." Holbrook's recollection: "He was holding (the knife) in his right hand with the blade pointed out. And that was just for a split second, there was no warning, and he just charged at Officer Parker."
Taken in total, the eyewitness impression of the moment before the shot paints a markedly different picture than that of the officers. In the April, 2002 exoneration of the officers by the Attorney General Sorrell, much was made of the fact that some of the eyewitnesses did not have an unobstructed view of Woodward at the moment before the first shot. And scrutiny of the evidence does reveal that at that moment, the eighteen witnesses did direct their attention variously.
Four state that they were not looking at the proceedings at all in the seconds prior to the first shot. Another four say that their view was completely blocked or that they do not remember where they were looking. However, the space of time between the moment when all agree Woodward was threatening no one but himself, and the disputed moment of the alleged charge totals only a few seconds. For example, Charles Tummino says that he turned away from his view of Woodward for what he estimated was three seconds before he heard the first shot. Prior to those three seconds, Tummino maintains that he never saw Woodward lower the knife from his eye.
All of those who cannot claim a partial or direct view of Woodward at the moment of the shooting agree that they never saw Woodward lower the knife, or point it at another person prior to his being shot.
Of those who had a partial view, there is no recollection of seeing Woodward come forward, certainly not at a run. Donna Payne, who says she could see Woodward the entire time "except for the part of his body that was blocked" did not see Woodward come forward. Iain Worth, who describes his view as being from an angle, says that when the first shot was fired, Woodward was "standing." Mary Treat, who says she had a consistent view of Woodward's "top half" does not recount a charge, and says that the knife was held "Only to himself. He had it up to his eye."
Janis Chaillou, who describes her view as "peripheral," attracted the attention of the interviewing detective when she said that Woodward "had the knife forward," and that it was not in his eye. She was then questioned closely. She stated numerous times that she "wasn't really looking at him," and that she "wasn't sure, because she turned." And when she was asked if just prior to the first shot, Woodward had made a gesture toward the officers, or walked toward them, her reply was consistent with that of other witnesses: "I'll be honest with you, I believe it was after the first gunshot."
Adelbert Ames admits that he was looking back and forth rapidly between the police and Woodward and was not entirely sure which he was looking at during the crucial seconds. But he maintains that he was watching both parties, and stated several times that he was confident he "would have remembered if he had turned in any aggressive way and threatened them ... I think he was threatening himself with his knife ... I didn't see him threaten anyone else ..."
Four other witnesses indicated that they had no obstruction to their view of Woodward prior to the first shot, and that they were looking in his direction at the time. They all concur strongly that Woodward made no motion toward the officers. Tommy Thomas recalled "he certainly wasn't threatening the policemen in any way and then the policeman shot"
Jane Worley states, "I didn't see him move toward anybody else. Like I said, the knife got closer to his right eye ... He made no threats to the officers. He made no threats to anyone else."
Norman Hunt recalls, "There was no threatening done. I mean, he did not threaten anybody except himself, I didn't see him point it at any time except to his own eye." "At the time of the first shot," Polly Wilson agrees, "he was standing to the left hand side of the lectern, he had a knife towards his own eye. He looked defensive, not offensive, if you know what I mean by that difference."
Sherri Manning was asked, "From what you could see, what caused the officers to shoot?" After a long pause, Manning replied, "You got me. I think it was the fear factor. I don't know how they were trained. I don't know .." And Manning continued to maintain throughout her questioning, "He was definitely threatening to kill himself -- He was not attacking."
A particularly troublesome aspect of the shooting is whether any bullets were fired at Woodward after he had fallen to the ground. There appears to be significant forensic and eyewitness evidence that this was so. While many witnesses recount that in their shock and confusion at the initial shots they turned away or were otherwise unable to stay focused on the remainder of the shooting, at least one witness, Tommy Thomas, has attested to viewing the entire sequence of the shooting. He stated explicitly to reporters from the Hartford Courant on January third that he observed Woodward receiving approximately five shots as he lay on the floor. He reasserted this observation on multiple occasions, once before a large audience at the January 20th community meeting at the Quality Inn in Brattleboro. This subject is treated in more detail in Part Two.
After the shooting ceased, Marshall Holbrook radioed the dispatch center with this report, "Dispatch, 76, We have shots fired. We need Rescue up here now! We need Rescue!" Terrence Parker got on the radio as well and reported, "Dispatch we've had shots fired. Rescue right in as soon as you can. Notify Detectives and State's Attorney." Officers John Freschette, Mike Gorman, David Gerard and Gene Wrin were called to the scene and accompanied by Acting Chief John Martin. The Brattleboro Fire Department sent firefighter Shawn Hammond and another firefighter named Olney. Two teams of paramedics from Rescue Inc. reported that they were also on the way, the second team stating that that they would be delayed somewhat.
Dispatcher Barbara Wheelock announced to all units responding, "Scene is secure, we just, they do have one, uh, person in custody, you're all set." While the other policemen and the medics were en route, Woodward lay on the floor in a widening pool of blood. According to witnesses, as well as to the answering machine tape, he was still vocalizing loudly. He was also, according to witnesses, "combative" and "trying to move his arms."
Marshall Holbrook reports that he "took the knife and pried it out of his hand and tossed it away." Officers Parker and Davies then handcuffed Woodward. One issue of serious concern is there is no indication that Woodward was read his Miranda rights. The two-minute answering machine recording begins with shouts of "handcuffs," so presumably it covers the period of time when Woodward was officially taken into custody, but the Miranda rights are not read during that space of time. By the end of the two minutes, the shouts of the officers have died down, and towels are being discussed over the sound of Woodward's moans and shouts.
Both of Woodward's arms had been shot, one bullet to the left arm and four to the right arm. The right elbow was shattered and rapidly becoming severely edemic, according to physician Phyllis Woodring. Officer Parker says that the bleeding made his right arm "slippery" but that they were "able to get both arms into submission for the handcuffing." One witness recalls hearing Woodward shout repeatedly at this point, "They're going to torture me now, they're going to torture me!" Another recalls Woodward begging the officers not to hurt him.
Parishioner Phyllis Woodring, M.D., approached the officers and offered to assist. Parker states that he invited her to help. Woodring recalls "They were saying everybody get out, but I wasn't about to get out." Woodring reports that she requested repeatedly that the officers remove the handcuffs so that she could turn Woodward over and examine the wounds to the front of his torso, and attempt to stanch the heavy bleeding. The officers refused.
There is some variance in the time perception of certain witnesses as to how many minutes passed between the shooting and the entrance of the first EMTs. Some witnesses say the EMTs arrived "amazingly quickly." Woodring recalls an interval of ten to twenty minutes. The officers believe it was five minutes or so, which seems to be the majority perception. Nurse Jane Worley recalls that there was sufficient time in that interval for her to speak to Officer Parker, go to her car to get her first aid kit, and to return and begin treating Woodward's wounds.
The first team of medics arrived. EMT Elena Mayo cut off Woodward's shirt, with the handcuffs still in place. She states that Woodward was "conscious and alert to circumstances."
Mayo says that she was able to convince Officer Davies to remove the handcuffs, recalling that he at first resisted because the "subject had not been searched." However, when Rescue Inc. Captain Brian Patno arrived with the second team, some minutes later, he noted that Mayo was "working on getting some IDs" and that Woodward was still handcuffed, his shirt having been removed.
Patno recalls that the officers first refused to take the handcuffs off, but that he was able to convince them that Woodward posed no danger because of his wounds. At last the handcuffs were removed. When Woodward was turned over, Phyllis Woodring reports that she observed a wound on his upper right quadrant, which she has been unable to stanch because Woodward was face down due to the handcuffs.
While there is no official notation of the length of time that Woodward was allowed to bleed uncontrollably prior to the removal of the handcuffs, firefighter Shawn Hammond's statement gives us a clue. He reports that after hearing the transmission that the shots had been fired, he completed his journey from Fire Station 2 to the church and parked the engine facing away from the church. He exited the engine, went over to the ambulance to gather medical equipment, and then proceeded to the rear of the building. There he was met by a police officer who led him up a flight of stairs and into the main hall. He observed Woodward lying "on his side almost face down with handcuffs on," talking to Phyllis Woodring. He observed Rescue Inc. initiate care. He was then asked to go back to the ambulance and retrieve oxygen equipment and a backboard. He performed this task, returned to the sanctuary and set up the oxygen at 15 lpm. Only then did he observe Brian Patno discussing the removal of the handcuffs with the officers. After the handcuffs were taken off, Woodward was placed on a backboard. Hammond reports that he observed "a large amount of blood" beneath Woodward after he was turned over.
Both Phyllis Woodring and Jane Worley made detailed statements about Woodward's wounds. Worley admitted to being troubled about the nature of the wounds, commenting, "To shoot him in the stomach, I'm not sure what purpose that served."
After he fell, Woodward continued to vocalize throughout the course of his subsequent handling, despite his injuries. Witnesses characterize his tone with the words moaning, bellowing, ranting, yelling and whining. The answering machine message recorded clearly audible shouts of "Political assassination!" and "It's about global warming. I love you." And "Help. Help me!" interspersed with tormented groans. Jane Worley recalls that Woodward looked up at the officers and Rescue workers and asked who they were. "One of the officers said, well, we're here to help you. And he kind of laughed at that, thought it was "well, isn't that strange," or "isn't that peculiar?" Many witnesses recall that Woodward continued to denounce the CIA as his strength failed. The EMTs and fire personnel also heard Woodward speaking about the CIA. EMT Elena Mayo recalls that he "stated this was a political assassination because he was an environmentalist and the CIA wanted to keep him quiet." Many witnesses heard him recite a litany of names of famous people whom the CIA had "killed with cancer," including George Harrison, Bob Marley, Tip O'Neil, George McGovern, Jeb Bush and Paul Tsongas. He also was heard to declare that he himself had cancer, and that it didn't matter if he died because the CIA was out to get him and would kill him anyway. Many people present heard Woodward utter statements of apology. There is significant disparity between what the Officers and the EMTs heard and what the parishioners heard, with regard to the apologies.
The officials report hearing Woodward make apologies directly to the officers and stating that he had wanted to be killed. However, the eyewitnesses do not recall any such admission of culpability in Woodward's apologies, remembering instead that Woodward expressed contrition for being at the center of a crisis.
Jane Worley: "He apologized for scaring people, and that he loved us all."
Rescue Inc. employees and some of the officers and firefighters responding have stated that they heard Woodward apologize "to the officers" or "to the officer he assaulted." They also report that he made various statements to the effect that he had wanted to be shot and wanted to die.
At this point, however, it should be noted that Woodward had lost a great deal of blood. Nurse Jane Worley states that she estimated that he was "in shock." And Brian Patno, recalls, "I'm not an expert at it, but he was not in his right mind at the time." Regardless of Woodward's state of mind after the shooting, any statements made while in custody were made without having been read his Miranda rights. It is unfortunate, in any compassionate consideration of Woodward's final hours, that Brian Patno's statement reveals a number of places where he, the chief EMT in charge of Woodward during his first aid and ambulance transport, was harsh and unsympathetic to his patient. Patno relates that he said such phrases to Woodward as "What did you expect?" "Well, you got what you wanted," and "It should hurt, you've been shot." It seems plausible that Woodward might have stumbled to get out words that might have placated or elicited compassion from the people he perceived as his tormentors, people to whom he had become ultimately vulnerable.
In considering the alleged apology, the inconsistency of Woodward's own views at the time must be weighed against the credibility of such a confession. Woodward alternated between taking responsibility for his own shooting, and asking "why did they do this?" He declared his absolution of the shooters one moment, and called his death "assassination" at another.
"He was rambling on the whole time. He definitely was not there mentally when we were working on him. I mean, he was rambling on not making any sense whatsoever," says Patno.
The eighteen eyewitnesses from the congregation handed in written statements on December 2. Police detectives interviewed most of them before departing from the church that day. A few were interviewed the following day.
The EMTs did not finish submitting their statements until December 21st. The police officers were directed to return to the station before being asked to fill out statements on December 2. There, they filled out written reports together, in an atmosphere that can only be described as careless.
Officers Parker and Holbrook both recall that Acting Chief John Martin instructed them to return to the station and "chill out." Parker recalls being told to "jot down some notes." Holbrook states that "a couple of hours" lapsed between the shooting and the writing of the reports. All three officers wrote their statements, according to Officer Davies, "in the same proximity at the same time in the patrol area of the police department." Officer Parker recalls "There were other officers coming in and out and the other two officers were there."
Parker assured the interviewer that the officers "really didn't" discuss the shooting as they sat in that room. Holbrook agrees, recalling "No, because I remember John Martin telling us when he left he didn't want us to discuss it." Parker admits that the officers did discuss the shooting privately with one another prior to being formally interviewed the following day.
Officer Davies says, "We were instructed by Deputy Chief Martin at the scene not to discuss the matter with each other and that we were to wait for somebody to come back and talk to us."
Davies was asked, "As you were typing out your reports was there any conversation between the three of you as to what happened?" "Not in regards to the incident. I mean, we had normal police, you know, tease each other, do those kinds of things that you normally do."
Upon leaving the "chilled out," "teasing" police officers unsupervised, in the same room, to fill out their official reports, Deputy Chief Martin left town for a three-day vacation.
This concludes Justice for Woody's narrative of the events of December 2nd, 2001. For more information, please refer to the comprehensive Detailed Narrative upon which this abbreviated version is based. Since Sorrell's office has released no autopsy or medical information concerning Robert Woodward's death, we cannot address decisions made regarding his treatment after he left the All Souls Church. What we do know about Woody's final hours is that he was taken to the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital at 11 am, then airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Lebanon, NH, where he died as a result of gunshot wounds while in surgery at 2 p.m. that day.