Justice for Woody ... and Dean
Seventeen of 18 eyewitnesses on that fateful day contradicted the official police version of events, yet then-Gov. Dean approved a report saying police acted responsibly, despite compelling testimony that the victim was shot while lying on the floor and then denied medical treatment that might have saved his life.
Organizers of the Justice for Woody march set for Dec. 2 accuse Dean of complicity in a conspiracy to obstruct justice in the case.
Jonathan Mark in the current issue of Flyby News (http://www.flybynews.com/cgi-local/newspro/viewnews.cgi?newsid1070062050,50733, See story #4.) reported it this way.
Two years ago Robert Woodward was brutally gunned down by Brattleboro police officers Marshall Holbrook and Terrance Parker while seeking political sanctuary in a church. Woodward spoke of threats against his life by federal agents, and held a small knife to his eye, threatening suicide if he was left alone. The police fired seven bullets into Woodward's body within 60 seconds of entering the church, most of which were fired after he was downed. Four months later, these police officers were exonerated in a fraudulent and biased investigation by state Attorney General William Sorrell. Howard Dean, at that time Governor of Vermont, refused to appoint an independent investigator, stating that he was "comfortable" with Sorrell's findings.
It is a widely known fact that William Sorrell's family was instrumental in the launching of Howard Dean's political career and the two are lifelong friends. To date, no criminal charges have been filed against either police officer, although 17 out of 18 church eyewitnesses questioned insist that Woody never threatened anyone but himself. A civil law suit against the town of Brattleboro is pending.
Paul Borneo, one of the organizers of the Justice for Woody campaign, described it like this:
On December 2, 2001, Robert Woodward died after being shot 7 times by police in a Brattleboro church.
Beginning that day, Vermont State Police investigators conducted recorded interviews with each of the 18 eyewitnesses, who were asked where they were looking at the moment of the first shot, and whether they saw any threatening movements made toward the police officers. To a person, they did not.
In addition, eyewitnesses volunteered that they had seen Woodward shot after he had fallen to the floor, and that he had been denied desperately needed medical care. Each time incriminating evidence was volunteered, the interviewer quickly changed the subject, and it was never pursued again.
Of the three officers present at the shooting, the two who fired shots were allowed to fill out their reports in the same room, unsupervised, and admitted to discussing the incident prior to their interviews by investigators the next day. The third officer's interview contains an exchange that corroborates eyewitness accounts that the victim was shot from above.
While securing the crime scene, officials apparently refrained from gathering crucial physical evidence or performing basic forensic analysis procedures, including those which could either prove or refute the eyewitness claims.
On December 20, officials staged an incident reenactment with the three officers present at the shooting. Reenactments were performed with only 3 of the 18 church eyewitnesses.
Months later, officials re-interviewed the eyewitnesses, but chose not to record their words. Recollections from the officials conducting these interviews, rather than quotes from the eyewitnesses themselves, formed the basis for the eventual exoneration.
Vermont Attorney General William Sorell closed the matter with his April 2, 2002 Woodward Shooting Report, which justified the shooting as self-defense. It praised the investigation as "competent" and "diligent," while carefully hiding the evidence that the victim was shot after falling and then denied medical care.
Vermont Governor Howard Dean, facing an outcry from citizens, the ACLU, and Vermont legislators, refused calls for an independent investigation, saying that he was "comfortable" with Sorrell's report.
Dean maintained this position despite admitting to having read the evidence that the victim was multiply shot from above and then prevented from receiving available and possibly life-saving first aid.
Dean was the only State elected official, other than Sorrell, who was able to initiate an investigation independent of Vermont law enforcement. At a fundraising event, a member of a citizen's group handed him a report containing the evidence of down shooting and denial of first aid presented in this document.
Dean volunteered to read the report. In an article in the Brattleboro Reformer, Dean admitted reading the report, showing that he was aware of the evidence of down shooting and denial of first aid.
Governor Dean is an accomplice to the conspiracy.
* Here's a teaser from this week's Valley Advocate
* The charges are detailed with their supporting evidence at: http://www.justiceforwoody.org
* and in particular on http://justiceforwoody.org/cases/obstruction/obstruction_v1.html
The march Tuesday begins at noon at the Brattleboro Food Co-op parking lot at the intersection of Rts119 and Rt 5 (Main St.) and goes up Main Street to the Police Station/Municipal Building.
John Kaminski, a former Brattleboro resident, is the author of "America's Autopsy Report," (http://www.johnkaminski.com) a collection of his internet essays published on websites around the world. See also http://www.rudemacedon.ca/kaminski/kam-index.html. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.