Vermont State Police
Prejudging the Case and Stonewalling the Public
The Vermont State Police have been at the heart of the official investigation of the shooting since the beginning. On the day of the shooting Dan Davis, the State's Attorney in Windham County, determined that the State Police should do the investigation. The independence of the State Police from the Brattleboro Police Department would assure an impartial investigation, the public was told. Soon the case would be in the hands of the highest ranks of the state police hierarchy: Vermont's Attorney General William Sorrel, and his team of lawyers.
We would not know until we had a chance to digest the evidence months later, that state police investigators had already avoided gathering evidence of crimes the day of the shooting, by the questions they failed to ask the witnesses. But on the day after the shooting we saw public evidence that the Vermont State Police were not competent to conduct an unbiased investigation, when they announced findings on an issue they were supposed to be investigating.
What part of the Vermont State Police was handling the investigation was a little hard to discern at first. There were supposedly two separate investigations, a local one represented by Dan Davis and a state-level one headed by Cindy McGuire in the Attorney General's Office. Neither seemed to miss an opportunity to mention the other branch of the investigation, as if that added legitimacy to it. But the illusion of two investigations was quietly abandoned when Davis recused himself around the time the civil suit became known. It would be up to Sorrell's team of lawyers to build an edifice of words strong enough to preserve this part of the wall of silence. Its cornerstone, the Woodward Shooting Report , is a study in the construction of a whitewash. It misleads the reader by presenting a very distorted picture of events, while attempting to avoid making provably false statements, especially in its findings, that could come back to haunt Sorrell in the form of obstruction of justice charges.