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Article Last Updated:
Thursday, December 13, 2001 - 12:00:00 AM MST

BRATTLEBORO REFORMER

Police reveal 911 info
By TOM MARSHALL
Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO -- Officials on Wednesday released an abbreviated version of 911 and emergency communications on the Dec. 2 police shooting of Robert Woodward.

The timeline was dictated by acting Chief of Police John Martin from a notepad, and he said some communications between officers on the scene and dispatchers were being withheld by state police investigators.

"To protect the integrity of the investigation, I am limited in the amount of detail I can release," Martin said. "There was a lot of radio chatter that I've been told not to release."

Also Wednesday, Martin said Officers Marshall Holbrook and Terrance Parker -- who shot Woodward seven times with their service pistols shortly after their arrival at the All Souls Unitarian-Universalist Church -- had returned to active duty. Officer William Davies, who did not fire, returned to his beat last week.

"They've been evaluated for fitness to return to duty, and have been found to be fit for duty," said Martin. He added that all three had gone through a mandatory psychological debriefing, and would return to duty in a "flexible, graduated" fashion with a partner.

Martin said other officials outside the department, and not in town government, had taken part in the decision to release the officers for duty. "There are others, and I'm not at liberty to tell you who they are."

Woodward died shortly before 2 p.m. at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, some four hours after he had appeared before the Sunday congregation in tears, shouting for protection from the government, and threatening to kill himself with a folding knife.

Martin said the first sign of trouble came that morning at 10:04, when an incoming 911 call was received.

He declined to say who placed the call or provide a transcript, and cautioned that while reported times could deviate from Eastern Standard Time or other standardized sources by "two or three minutes," the time separations in the chronology released Wednesday were accurate.

At 10:05 officers were dispatched, Martin said. He declined to say how many officers had been summoned.

At 10:11 officers requested fire and Rescue Inc. units to "stage" at the West Brattleboro fire station until the scene was secured.

Simultaneously, Martin said, officers reported their arrival at the church, and fire department units confirmed their presence in West Brattleboro.

He declined to say whether police units arrived with sirens or silently, or whether they had requested additional support before entering the building.

At 10:12, Rescue Inc. reported it was responding.

Two minutes later, at 10:14 a.m., comes the only hint of the turmoil taking place inside the church.

"Officer reports shots fired, 'We need Rescue up here,'" Martin said. The call for ambulance assistance was a direct quote, he added, but declined to say which officer said it.

Also at 10:14, Martin said, Brattleboro Fire Department units responded from the station. "From West Brattleboro, that's my assumption."

At 10:15 the first unit from Rescue Inc. said it was "incoming," and asked for confirmation of a single patient. The dispatcher acknowledged the single patient and reported the scene was secure, Martin said.

He declined to say whether officers had called in that report from the scene.

"There's a lot that's not here," he said. "I'm only reporting what they have authorized me to release."

At 10:16 police ask the dispatcher to notify Brattleboro Memorial Hospital of "gunshots," Martin said, adding that medical communications were on a different frequency and aren't normally heard by police. Brattleboro Fire Department units reported they were at the church.

Three minutes later a second unit from Rescue Inc. arrived at the scene, he said, and at 10:24 "Fire and Rescue report under control."

He could not provide details on whether that assessment had followed treatment of Woodward.

Thirteen minutes later comes the final communication released Wednesday. At 10:37, he said, "Rescue reports they're transporting one patient, code A."