Delahunt’s Office: Bishop Incident Was Presented To DA As ‘Closed Case’

A spokesman for Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA), who was Norfolk County district attorney when Amy Bishop killed her brother in 1986, tells TPMmuckraker that investigators presented the case to the DA as an open-and-shut accidental shooting.

Spokesman Mark Forest also says that those who were involved in making the decision not to charge Bishop are now asking why information about her behavior after she fled the scene of the shooting — including demanding a car from a worker at gunpoint — was left out of a state police report on the incident.“The question that we’ve been wrestling with is why a lot of this information was not included in that state police report,” Forest says. “Where was the Pettigrew incident in that statement?” he asks, referring to Thomas Pettigrew, who says Bishop held him up at an auto body shop after she killed her brother.

Bishop, now a biology professor, has been charged in the killing of three colleagues at the University of Alabama Friday. In the wake of the shooting, questions have been raised about why police released her the day she killed her brother in 1986, and about the quality of the investigation that ruled the incident an accident.

TPMmuckraker reported today on another man who says a fleeing Bishop threatened him with a shotgun, demanding a car, after the 1986 incident. He says the police never questioned him.

The Bishop case was handled by Delahunt’s then-first assistant, John Kivlan, who is now counsel to the congressman. Kivlan said in a statement today that he had never seen the Braintree police records released yesterday — which cover at least some of what happened after Bishop fled the home.

After reading the local records, Kivlan says “clearly there was sufficient probable cause relating to the following charges: Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Carrying a Dangerous Weapon, Unlawful Possession of Ammunition. Why the Braintree Police Department did not seek complaints in the Quincy District Court on the above charges is unknown to me.”

Then-Braintree chief of police John Polio has said he may have made the wrong decision in the case, and that he released Bishop the day of the shooting because she was too emotional to be questioned.

As for the state police report, which was released several months after the incident and seems to leave out key facts of what happened after the shooting, its author has not spoken to the media. No one is answering the phone at the home of the author, then-Trooper Brian L. Howe.

Delahunt, who is traveling in Israel on a J Street trip, told the AP today he has not had a chance to look at the details of the case.

His spokesman rejected as “false” a report by a Boston ABC affiliate that Polio called Delahunt on the phone before releasing Bishop the day of the shooting.

Late Update: In an interview with TPMmuckraker, Kivlan had this to say about the gaps in the state police report, particularly about what happened after the shooting:

“I don’t know whether or not the Braintree police provided this information to Howe and he didn’t include it for some reason, or that they didn’t provide the information and he never had it and never knew.”

Kivlan says Howe was a “very experienced homicide investigator” with a good reputation.