Wrongful death settlement money to be donated

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(Host) The family of a man fatally shot by police in a Brattleboro church is giving away the settlement money from his wrongful death suit.

Robert Woodward’s parents live in Connecticut. But they say much of the settlement money will go to Southern Vermont.

VPR’s Susan Keese has more.

(Keese) Dozens of Windham County kids may get to go to camp this summer as an indirect result of the painful events at All Souls Church in 2001.

Joanne Woodward, the mother of Robert Woodward says Woody would have liked that.

(Woodward) “When he was killed, the job he had was working through the Springfield branch of the family institute. And we were hoping it would go to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to go to camp or do some of these things.”

(Keese) That’s the Northeast Family Institute. The agency, which helps emotionally disturbed children, has received a $10,000 gift from Woodward’s estate. Most of the money will go for camp scholarships for children of the working poor.

Woodward was a youth worker at the Institute when he interrupted a church service in an agitated state. He was eventually shot by police seven times.

Brattleboro Police were ultimately cleared of wrongdoing. But the town reached a $150,000 dollar out-of-court settlement on the family’s civil case.

(Woodward) “And we had decided even before we had agreed to the settlement that we wanted to do something that would reflect our son’s beliefs. And so we drew up a mission statement that basically said that we wanted to continue what his life’s work was. We wanted him to be remembered not for the way he died but for the way he lived.”

(Keese) Joanne Woodward says her son was a gentle person. He worked with the handicapped and the elderly, and was concerned about the environment.

The family has already given a gift to the New England Youth Theater, which works with kids of different ages and abilities. They’ve also helped a senior center in Massachusetts.

The Woodwards say they expect it will take two or three years to give away what’s left of the settlement after lawyers’ fees and funeral costs.

For VPR News, I’m Susan Keese.

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