US Representative William Delahunt, the former Norfolk district attorney, today defended his handling of Amy Bishop's fatal 1986 shooting of her brother in Braintree, which was ruled an accident.
"I thought we handled it appropriately, given the information we had," Delahunt, breaking his silence on the case, said in an interview with the Globe.
John Kivlan, who served as first assistant district attorney under Delahunt and who took part in today's interview, said the DA's office was never informed of Amy Bishop's actions after shooting her brother. Braintree police had completed written reports saying that Bishop had also attempted to hold up a nearby auto dealership, trained a shotgun on two individuals there, and later pointed the same weapon at a Braintree police officer.
Kivlan said current District Attorney William R. Keating's investigation should answer questions for the public and the law enforcement community.
"Why was Miss Bishop released from the police department that night," Kivlan said. "That really should be the focus."
Delahunt and Kivlan made their comments 10 days after Bishop opened fire on faculty colleagues during a meeting at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, killing three professors and critically injuring two more. Delahunt was traveling in Israel at the time and had referred questions to Kivlan, so he could complete his travel plans and receive a briefing before making any detailed pubic comments.
Amy Bishop shot her younger brother, Seth, with a 12-gauge shotgun, a shooting witnessed by their mother. Keating has said there was a "glaring omission'' in State Police reports prepared under the supervision of Delahunt and Kivlan.
The case began unfolding on the morning of Dec. 6, 1986, when Bishop, then 21, fatally shot her 18-year-old brother in an incident that Delahunt's office ultimately concluded was an accident.
John V. Polio, the Braintree police chief at the time of the shooting, also said he was unaware of police reports re-counting Bishop's actions after she shot her brother.
The reports went missing for more than 20 years and were discovered last week by Braintree officials who found them in the personal files of a deceased former Braintree police capitain.
Keating has said that given Bishop's actions, Delahunt could have charged Bishop with assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon, and unlawful possession of ammunition, leaving her with a criminal record that may have altered the course of her career and prevented her getting her job in Huntsville.
Instead, she was let go without any criminal record at all.
A spokesman for Keating said today that investigators are reviewing the handling of the case but declined to elaborate.
"State Police from this office and also from Framingham are working and talking to people looking to fill in some of the questions and gaps in the events of 1986 and the shooting of Seth Bishop," said spokesman David Traub. "But we're not going to be providing detail on a step by step basis."
The Braintree police reports, written in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, are explicit in their detail. According to written accounts by two Braintree officers -- Donald Somilini and Timothy Murphy -- Bishop was discovered in a stairway at the Dave Dinger Ford dealership, where she pointed her shotgun at two workers and demanded a getaway car.
After backing out of the dealership with her weapon trained on the two workers, Bishop was discovered by Solimini and Murphy. As Solimini approached her with his weapon by his side and tried to reason with her, Murphy edged closer from another direction and demanded three times that Bishop drop her weapon, finally seizing the shotgun and Bishop.
Additional police reports say that Bishop was read her Miranda rights at the Braintree police station and was talking with officers -- she told them she had a "spat" with her father before the shooting -- when Bishop's mother, Judy, entered the station and instructed Bishop to stop answering questions.
Shortly thereafter, officers received a telephone call, either from Polio or another senior officer, and were told to stop the interview. It was not until eleven days later that Braintree and State Police interviewed Bishop, he mother and her father.
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