Shooters Returned to Active Duty
Before the the services for Woody were even over, the two officers who fired the fatal shots were returned to active duty on December 12, just 10 days after they killed Woody. Their return to the streets was not disclosed to the public until the following day. During the interim they had been placed on paid administrative leave. The officers were reportedly given psychological evaluations and determined fit to return to active duty. None of the details of the nature of that process have been made public. Acting chief John Martin defended his decision:
|I am aware that not everyone may agree with these men returning to service, but I am absolutely comfortable with the decision.|
While neither John Martin nor the shooters themselves seem to have a problem with their returning to their beats, packing the same semiautomatic weapons they used to kill Woody, we and many of the local residents do. At the first public forum on the killing, held in Brattleboro on January 20 and attended by about 250, it appeared that virtually the entire audience was in agreement that that the two officers should not have been returned to active duty before the completion of investigations. John Martin had maintained all along that the force policy had been followed in the shooting. At the forum he was confronted by statements by witness Tommy Thomas recounted by a woman who had witnessed an interview with Thomas, which described Woody being shot while he was on the floor. Martin then referred to the 'misinformation' out there and said that if Woody had been shot after he had fallen, policy would not have been followed, but assured the audience that he had information that showed policy had been followed. That apparently prompted Tom Thomas, present at the forum, to back up his account of bullets being fired into Woody while he lay on the floor. In spite of that exchange, which many who witnessed thought was extremely significant and would lead to the immediate reassignment of the shooters, the days following the meeting saw no action by Martin.
Finally, on February 7, the officers were reassigned to desk duty, allegedly based on pressure from the police union. This was widely publicised, with articles in the Brattleboro Reformer and Rutland Herald, and presumably led most citizens in the local community to believe that neither officer was on armed patrol duty.
Then, on February 26th, a Reformer Article revealed that all the while Parker had continued to work at a second police job in the adjacent jurisdiction of Vernon at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, presumably on armed patrol duty. Vernon police chief Wheelock, with apparent contempt for the concerns or safety of the citizenry, refuses to disclose the nature of Parker's dutys, such as whether his is armed.
Finally, on May 17, 2002, Parker and Hollbrook were returned to full active duty on the Brattleboro Police Department.