Police Work Rewarded
me if youve heard this one
man walks into a church. He says, "Help,
I need political sanctuary! The CIA and the FBI
are after me! The police are gonna kill me!"
minutes later, hes lying in a pool of his
own blood, shot seven times by two police officers
within 60 seconds of their arrival at the church.
He dies three hours later on the operating table
at one of the best hospitals in the world.
months later, the officers are not only cleared
of any wrongdoing by the state attorney general,
but he dubs their actions "heroic."
could only happen in New York City. Or maybe not.
particular conspiracy buffs wet dream took
place recently in Vermont thats right,
and not a cow in sight. Everything stated above
is true, and the real tale is as bizarre as it
"Woody" Woodward was, by all accounts,
a gentle, helpful, 38-year-old, environmentally
one knows what set him off on Dec. 2, 2001, but
he drove a half-hour south of his Bellows Falls,
Vt. Home to an out-of-the-way little church in
the town of Brattleboro. There, he burst in upon
a service attended by about 65 people, announced
the police were out to get him, and begged for
response from the president of the congregation?
Well, he did exactly what youd expect of
a good Christian (actually, it was a Unitarian
Universalist church). Honoring Woodwards
request, he dug out his cell phone and called
the cops, telling them there was a deranged "outsider"
in his church.
others moved children to safety or tried to talk
calmly to Woodward, congregation president Charles
Butterworth (thats right, THE Mr. Butterworth
of "40 Days and 40 Nights" fame) called
the police back to tell them Woodworth was armed
enough. Woodward had taken out a 3-inch pocket
knife and, following the example of Cleavon Little
in "Blazing Saddles," held it to his
own face, threatening to harm HIMSELF if he didnt
get what he was asking for. Along the way, he
at least hinted that the CIA was responsible for
the deaths of Bob Marley and George Harrison (who
had died days earlier).
one point, Woodward had been calmed down by several
congregation members trained in psychology. He
put the knife away. Then, as if on cue, a church
official ran in and announced everyone must leave
the dangerous situation (presumably not Woodward,
though, who undoubtedly felt left out and became
agitated once again).
came the knife. This time, he threatened his eye.
police officers arrived, with one walking slowly,
gun drawn, to the front of the church, where Woodward
stood. Another took up a similar position to Woodwards
left. The third worked on getting people out of
where accounts get dicey.
some point, within 60 seconds of the officers
arrival, Woodward made some sort of move forward.
Officer Terrence Parker, right in front of him,
says Woodward charged him. Others say it was less
aggressive. The attorney generals final
report on the matter quotes Marshall Holbrook,
the officer off to his left, as saying Woodward
Parker fired, hitting Woodward in the arm. When
Woodward didnt stop and say he was sorry,
Parker fired three more times. So did Holbrook,
by the way, including the fatal shot that pierced
Woodwards abdomen. One of the shots hit
the man in the back.
of which is understandable, given the situation:
man armed with a knife (however small), coming
at a cop whos warned him to put the knife
down and who has been told the mans a raving
lunatic. What would you do?
you might use your pepper spray, which the police
chief said the officers carried, but which the
attorney general later said they "might have"
had. Shouldnt he know, after an exhaustive,
four-month investigation? But lets not quibble.
If I were Parker, Id have had my gun out.
rest of the sad tale rests with Vermont Attorney
General William Sorrell. First, he refused to
allow an independent investigator to take on the
case, even though in Vermont, its his job
to work closely with state and local cops, and
even though his investigative arm, the Vermont
State Police, had all but declared Parker and
Holbrook cleared before they even started the
he admitted in the report and in the press conference
announcing his findings that witnesses accounts
of the events in the church varied widely, and
that he basically ignored those that didnt
fit his investigators theories and the evidence
then announced there were "large concentrations"
of ephedrine found in Woodwards blood. My
God!! Not ephedrine! You mean the stuff in my
asthma inhaler? What could it all mean? According
to Woodwards supporters, it means Woody
had allergies. But the unstated hint from Sorrell
was that Woodward was somehow having a Fen-Phen
moment. No other drugs were found nor were any
other explanations for his odd behavior offered.
and perhaps worst of all, he stood before a crowd
of dozens of Woodwards friends and family,
and announced that the officers who shot Woodward
seven times, including in the back, were heroic
for doing so.
it wasnt 44 shots at an unarmed man in a
doorway, but in small-town Vermont, its
been enough to spur quite a bit of animosity against
the local police, who are now (if they werent
before) seen as trigger-happy, untrained
yahoos doing whatever they want and covering up
for each other when the shit hits the fanatic.
those are the people who arent simply scared
silly that Robert Woodwards prediction came
true so quickly.
how exactly did Bob Marley die?
us with your comments.