While the Attorney General's conclusion that the officers' first shots were fired after Woodward began moving toward the lectern is contradicted by eyewitness accounts, so too is its finding that all of the shots were fired before Woodward collapsed. In the latter case, forensic evidence such as the autopsy and ballistics reports, blood spatter patterns, the rug, and Woodward's shirt, would be extremely informative, if available. Nonetheless, there is ample eyewitness testimony about those artifacts.
Interestingly, State Police Detectives asked only two of the eyewitnesses, Polly Wilson and Mary Hunt, whether shots were fired after Woodward fell near the podium. These are two of the most elderly eyewitnesses, both in their 80s. In his "Woodward Shooting Report", Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell cites the following quote from Mary Hunt:
"so they wrestled him down and he was down on the floor when the shots came."Alleged to be inconsistent with her March statement, it is follows with the following excerpt from Tommy Thomas' December 2nd written statement:
"There were about 6 shots, some after Woodward fell."This paragraph, in the DIFFERING WITNESS RECOLLECTIONS section, has the effect of casting Thomas' statement as unreliable. In fact Thomas had a clear vantage point of the action from where he stood on the elevated ramp in the right rear corner of the room, and he continued to focus on the events throughout the course of the shooting. His public retellings of what he witnessed were consistent with, and in some cases more detailed than, his written statement. The State Police Detectives did not question Tommy Thomas about his observation of shots after Woodward fell.
Eyewitness Janis Chaillou wrote a chronology in her report in which she indicates that shots were fired after Woodward had fallen. This chronology was omitted from the summary of her statement typed by Detective Robert McCarthy, and she was not questioned about the matter in her interview. Her chronology reads as follows:
Entrance Bob at podium Talk to us - pass out slips Children outside We were being in small groups Police moved in 1-2 shots Fell to floor near podium - blood Several shots Police surrounded him Left roomChaillou's recollection appears again in a response to the Detective's question about the beginning of the shooting:
"... I didn't see him get hit. I didn't see the several shots. I just heard the one shot, pause, I saw him on the floor. You know, I saw those other shots, I saw him on the floor ..."The Detective did not ask Chaillou to clarify the order of events.
Eyewitness Jane Worley also speculates in her December 2nd interview that the wound in Woodward's back might have occurred "if the gentleman turned over" while being shot, suggesting her belief that the bullets were fired when Woodward was in a prone position.
Prior to his death on January 29th, Thomas made a number of public statements insisting that Woodward was shot after he fell. His statements to Hartford Courant reporters Josh Kovner and Gary Libow during an interview conducted at the scene of the shooting were perhaps the most explicit.
Responding to questions by the incredulous reporters, Thomas described in graphic detail what he saw. He explained that after the first two shots, Woodward moved toward the entrance, which was at an angle to the direction of the officers, and collapsed to the front and left of the lectern. Thomas described Woodward's position after his collapse in detail: He was laying on his left side, his front facing the windows at the front of the sanctuary and his feet toward the Christmas tree; he was curled up in the fetal position, holding the knife toward himself with the tip adjacent to his right eye. It was as he lay in this position, Thomas said, that the officers fired the final fusillade of rounds into him from above. Thomas described the stances of the two officers: One officer was standing to either side of Woodward, and each was pointing his gun down while firing.
Thomas expressed confidence that the autopsy would corroborate his version of events by showing that most of the bullets entered Woodward from his right side. Thomas made other, less explicit public statements about his view of the final shots which were captured on video or audio tape. During the January 20 town forum at the Quality Inn, Thomas said:
"And John Martin just indicated that he has information that the rest of us ... that seems to be contradictory to what the rest of us think we saw, and that is that there would have been no bullets entering Woodward's body when he was lying on the floor, and if that is true that's news to what we thought we saw."
Forensic evidence such as the autopsy, ballistics tests, and blood spatter patterns could go a long way to substantiate or refute the theory that Woody was shot from above after he collapsed. Unfortunately, this crucial information has not been released to the public. However, there were several eyewitnesses to such artifacts, and their observations tend to substantiate what Thomas and Chaillou recalled.
EMT Brian Patno drew certain conclusions from the distribution of blood he observed in the room. His September 16th interview contained the following exchange:
BP: "And that was obviously where he got hit cause he was lying right there in all the blood." KL: "Okay. So it was evident to you that there was some ..." BP: "That was where he was hit." KL: "There was some ..."
Sorrell's report describes Woodward's wounds only as:
"... four bullets in the right arm, one in the left arm, one in the abdomen and one in the lower back, ..."It does not disclose anything about the exact locations of the wounds, the presence of exit wounds, or the direction of entry. Fortunately, several of the eyewitnesses and EMTs recall the wounds in greater detail. They indicate that the abdominal wounds were to his right side and probably entered from his right, as predicted by Thomas. EMT Elena Mayo recalled:
"His right arm badly and obviously fractured, bleeding on abdomen, hands restrained with handcuffs. When I cut his shirt I saw two holes in his right flank."Eyewitness and physician Phyllis Woodring recalled:
"I saw that his arm had been ... I saw open wounds in his arm ... I could see (an entry wound) in his flank ... so I was concerned about what was in the front, but I couldn't get him turned over because his hands were handcuffed. When they got the handcuffs off, I saw another entry wound in his front, in his upper right quadrant. I never saw any exit wounds but there was a bullet over on his left side. It was just under the skin ... This arm had two or three, I think, bullet holes that looked like maybe one was an entry wound with an exit ... his right arm. His elbow was shattered ... he was bleeding profusely from that right elbow. The left arm was also shot."Eyewitness and nurse Jane Worley recalled:
"So I saw the gun wounds. ... There were three that were on the right arm. ... it was concerning to me is that I distinctly remember seeing two gun shots in the abdomen which looked like it was around the liver."These three medical professionals clearly state that the two entry wounds in Woodward's torso were on his right side. Moreover, Woodring's observation of a bullet just under the skin on Woodward's left side is particularly revealing. This bullet could only have entered from one of the two known abdominal entry wounds, both on his right side. It therefore must have entered his right side, traveled through his abdomen from right to left, and almost exited. Such a wound must be unusual, since a bullet would have to lose it's kinetic energy just as it emerged from the body cavity in order to be stopped by the skin. But if his left side was lying on the carpet when the bullet hit him, the carpet could have absorbed the bullet's remaining energy while stretching, but not breaking, the skin.
This evidence alone provides a troubling indication that Woodward was shot from above as he lay on the floor, confirming the observations of eyewitnesses. Other pieces of evidence that would be extremely useful in evaluating the theory would be the shirt Woodward was wearing and the rug he collapsed upon. If Woodward was shot from above after falling, there would almost certainly be gunpowder residues on his shirt and the rug. Unfortunately, the whereabouts or disposition of these pieces of evidence is not known to the public.