Citizens group is calling for an investigation, claiming 22-year-old Emmanuel College student David Woodman, on the way home from a bar after celebrating the Celtics NBA championship, was tackled and beaten into a comatose state by eight officers on a street corner after saying "Wow, it seems like there's a lot of crime on this corner", eventually dying from his injuries. The Boston police department is insisting that no excessive force
was used against Woodman who was holding only a plastic beer cup.
The Boston Globe reports
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis vowed this afternoon that there
would be a thorough and transparent investigation of the arrest of
David Woodman on last month, but said an initial review found that
officers acted appropriately.
The 22-year-old man stopped breathing while in custody during the June
18 celebration of the Boston Celtics NBA championship and died on
"It appears from the evidence we have reviewed thus far that officers did not use excessive force," Davis said
during a 10-minute press conference at police headquarters. "No [pepper] spray or batons were used in this incident."
Investigators are building a timeline to try to determine what
occurred early that morning to David Woodman, a former Emmanuel College
student who was living in Brookline. Davis said it is unclear when
officers noticed the student's medical distress and began CPR. It was
sometime between 12:47 a.m. when police first called for an ambulance
for an intoxicated reveler, and 12:53 a.m. when officers called EMS a
second time because Woodman had stopped breathing.
"We're rebuilding the incident from the officers' statements as well
as witnesses statements," Davis said. "That's as specific as I can be
There was a struggle with Woodman that ultimately involved eight police
officers and one supervisor, all of whom were treated at a hospital for
stress, which is common, Davis said. The commissioner extended his
condolences to the family of Woodman.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino called earlier today for a expedited
investigation because it is "best for the family and Boston police that
we have all the facts known as quickly as possible."
Howard Friedman, a Boston lawyer who represents the Woodmans, said
this afternoon that he has asked the US Attorney's office to have the
FBI investigate. The family has scheduled a press conference later this
Woodman's parents told the Globe that their son did not receive
prompt medical attention while lying unconscious, face down on
Brookline Avenue with his hands cuffed behind his back. They also
accused police of failing to give them a full account of what happened.
In a story published in today's Globe, Boston police said they
immediately administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, flagged an
ambulance after noticing Woodman was in distress, and did everything
they could to help him before he was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess
Medical Center. But Jeffrey and Cathy Woodman of Southwick say their
son must have been deprived of oxygen for at least four minutes because
he suffered significant brain damage.
"We don't know what happened," said Jeffrey Woodman, contending that
police have left them with more questions than answers. "We are left to
surmise that something occurred while he was in police custody that
stopped his heart."
Woodman said his son had a preexisting heart condition, but he led
an active life and had been playing basketball earlier that day. He
said doctors told him his son's heart was functioning normally.
Thomas J. Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's
Association, said he understands the family's anguish, "but nothing
those officers did that night caused his death."
He said that the officers, who have not been identified publicly,
have cooperated with the investigation, and that the family's questions
will be answered.
David Woodman, who was charged with drinking in public and resisting
arrest, remained hospitalized after the incident and awoke June 23 from
a medically induced coma. His parents said he recognized them but had
difficulty communicating and whispered, "What happened?"
He smiled at a Globe reporter during a brief visit Thursday, spoke
softly to his parents, and appeared confused. A large scrape was
visible near his right eye. On Saturday, he was asking to go home,
according to his parents, who believed he would survive and face
At 2:30 a.m. Sunday he died at the hospital. The family is awaiting autopsy results.
Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley,
said Conley "pledged a thorough and impartial review of the facts."
The Boston Police Department launched an internal investigation shortly
after the incident into how the officers handled Woodman and will join
the district attorney's office in investigating his death, Elaine
Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Boston police, said yesterday. Several
officers were treated for stress and have returned to work, she said.
"Based upon what we know thus far we do not believe that any
excessive force was used and we do believe officers responded
reasonably," Driscoll said in an interview Friday.
The commissioner tried to meet with Woodman's family June 18 but was
turned away at the hospital by staff who said the family didn't wish to
see him, according to Driscoll.
Cathy Woodman said she was alone with her son, who was on life
support with scrapes that looked like road burns all over his face, and
felt too overwhelmed to meet with Davis.
David Woodman, who had been a history major at Emmanuel College and
planned to return in the fall after taking a semester off, was walking
from a bar with friends after the game when they passed about 10 or 12
uniformed officers at the corner of the Fenway and Brookline Avenue,
according to two friends who spoke on the condition they not be named.
According to one of the friends, as Woodman passed the officers, he
said, "Wow, it seems like there's a lot of crime on this corner."
Officers grabbed Woodman, who was carrying a plastic cup of beer, and
as they struggled to handcuff him pushed him face down onto the ground,
according to Woodman's friend.
"He wasn't being a punk or anything like that," said the friend. "I
don't understand why the officers used such brute force to arrest him."
Woodman's friends said an officer yelled at them to leave, saying they would be arrested if they didn't.
Thanks to Jonathan Turley