The January 20 Town Forum
On January 20, 2002, a town forum was held at the Quality Inn in Brattleboro. It had an estimated attendance of 250 people. A partial transcript of the meeting has been made. Present were town officials including acting Police Chief John Martin, Vermont State's Attorney for Windham County Dan Davis, and several members of the select board. John Martin defended his decision to return the shooting officers to active duty. Numerous people questioned that decision. Longtime friend of Woody Keith Carlson asked:
|When two police officers have killed someone under questionable circumstances, why are they allowed to return to work in less than two weeks?|
Jim Herrick of Marlboro also questioned the decision asking:
|I feel I have not gotten any satisfaction or responses from this panel. I think you are able to be completely detached by your police culture.|
The focus on the inappropriate use of force was sharpened when it was asserted that Woody was shot while he was on the floor in the foetal position. Martin stated that were that true it "would have been a violation of department policy". A few minutes later, J.B.C. Thomas, who has since died, commented on the Chief's remark saying:
|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 Woody's body when he was lying on the floor, and if that is true that's news to what we thought we saw.|
Thomas's entire statement leaves no doubt he believed Woody was shot while lying on the floor, and that, others perhaps too timid to admit it, also believed it. In spite of hopes of many that this revealation would prompt Martin to suspend the shooting officers, a hope that saw virtually unanimous support at the forum, Martin did not act to address those hopes. It wasn't until February 7th that the officers voluntarily removed themselves from full active duty. Even then they remained armed, and Parker continued to work on patrol duty at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.