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Brattleboro officer involved in fatal shooting dismissed

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. --A police officer involved in the fatal shooting of a Connecticut native at a church five years ago has been dismissed from the force, but neither he nor town officials are saying why.

Officer Terrence Parker spent 19 years with the police department.

"I was fired," Parker told the Brattleboro Reformer, declining further comment.

"He is no longer with us," said Assistant Town Manager Barbara Sondag. Personnel records are private, she said.

Neither members of the Select Board nor Police Chief John Martin would comment on the dismissal.

Martin reprimanded Parker recently, but he would not disclose the reason.

Parker, a former chief of the Vernon Fire Department, was admonished along with several other firefighters who were involved in an all-day "shooting event" at a gravel pit last July. The Vernon Select Board conducted an inquiry into the incident, in which a group of off-duty firefighters and friends reportedly shot guns, semiautomatic weapons and a cannon.

"We're always looking for an opportunity to shoot," Parker told the Vermont Select Board on July 26. "And we love to shoot."

The Select Board responded by passing an ordinance in November banning the firing of semiautomatic weapons in town.

On Dec. 2, 2001, Parker and former officer Marshall Holbrook responded to a report of an emotionally distraught man at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church who was threatening himself with a knife. Robert "Woody" Woodward, 37, whose family lives in Bozrah, Conn., had barged in during Sunday services, shouting that the government was out to kill him and holding a hunting knife to his head.

The officers, who said Woodward lunged at them, shot him seven times. They were cleared of using excessive force by Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, and a judge ruled that Woodward posed a threat to the officers, although witnesses said otherwise.

Last year, the town agreed to a $150,000 settlement with the Woodward family. Holbrook left the police department and moved out of Vermont shortly after the shooting.


Information from: Brattleboro Reformer