Release of the Stern Report on the death of David Woodman


The tragic death of David Woodman on June 29, 2008 has forever changed the lives of those affected. It is devastating to the department and the City when a tragedy occurs on a night intended for celebration. The Boston Police Department is committed to developing comprehensive and careful strategies to ensure the public’s safety. Our goal remains to consistently improve upon and enhance our efforts to provide the utmost professional, respectful and effective public safety services. The report released today by Donald Stern and our implementation of his recommendations represents our steadfast commitment to achieving that goal.

Immediately following Mr. Woodman’s tragic death, I requested an independent investigation into the matter by former U.S. Attorney Donald Stern. I strongly believe that the department and the public will benefit greatly from the findings and recommendations that he and his esteemed colleagues have provided in this report. On behalf of the department, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Donald Stern for providing his invaluable insight, distinguished experience and long-standing dedication to public service. I would also like to thank Barry Mawn, Nancy McGillivary and all of the administrative staff who assisted Mr. Stern in this endeavor. In addition, I would like to express our appreciation for the law firm, Cooley Godward Kronish LLP.

With this discerning contribution, the department will continue to build upon lessons learned in the past by not only following the recommendations presented by Mr. Stern, but also implementing recommendations the department proactively sought from international law enforcement experts to ensure that we consistently provide the best possible protection to our citizens.

It is important to note, that large scale gatherings are inherently dangerous situations particularly when there is a city-wide celebratory event like that which occurred on the evening of June 18, 2008 following the Celtic’s championship. These scenarios undeniably test a police agency’s capacity. We do believe that our department has significantly improved upon the planning and carrying out of such events in recent years. We also believe that the heightened community awareness regarding police expectations will continue to contribute to the successful policing of large gatherings. Every large-scale event offers invaluable insight into opportunities for improvement and important lessons to be learned.

Attorney Stern and the members of his committee had complete access to the interviews conducted by both the Homicide Unit and Internal Affairs, as well as the records of treatment provided by ambulance and emergency workers on the scene of Mr. Woodman’s arrest. They also had access to the medical examiner’s report and conclusions. Each of the investigatory units – Homicide, Internal Affairs, and the Stern Commission – reviewed different aspects of this event. Homicide focused on the potential criminality of the event, with ultimate oversight by the District Attorney’s Office; Internal Affairs reviewed the particular actions of each officer to assess compliance with BPD Rules and Procedures, and the Stern Commission reviewed both, and brought their combined experience and knowledge of best practices, in order to identify opportunities for the Department to learn from this unfortunate event.

After closely reviewing the totality of information presented from thorough, multi-faceted examination of this incident, I believe that officers in no way could have foreseen or prevented Mr. Woodman’s death. However, we will learn valuable lessons from this and will apply those lessons moving forward. I would like to reiterate the department’s pledge to employ every conceivable measure to provide our community with the utmost professional, respectful and effective public safety services.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, Suffolk County prosecutors, Boston Police homicide investigators and Boston Police Internal Affairs investigators for their commitment and dedication to conducting an objective and fair review of the facts.

In closing, the Boston Police Department, the officers and emergency personnel who responded in the early morning hours of June 18, 2008 undoubtedly continue to hold with them a deep sense of sadness from this incident. I would like to once again extend our most sincere condolences to the Woodman family and friends as they continue to cope with their difficult loss.

For more information on the Stern report and the deparmtent's response to Stern's recommendations please click on the link below:

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If you would like to receive a copy of the Stern report, please contact Media Relations.