The former Braintree, Mass., chief of police who is said to have ordered Amy Bishop released the day she killed her brother — and then threatened at least two people with a shotgun while frantically searching for a getaway vehicle — now says he may have made the wrong decision.
John Polio’s new comments in an interview with the Boston Globe are a marked shift from his earlier insistence that the process was handled properly. Polio previously rejected that there was any cover-up and that any records were missing in the 1986 case.
Bishop’s past is under new scrutiny in the wake of a mass-shooting Friday in which she allegedly killed three colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where she is a biology professor.
Current Braintree Police Chief Paul Frazier said over the weekend that the file in the Bishop case is missing — and apparently has been since 1988. He said Polio ordered Bishop released the day of the shooting, before the booking process was even complete. She left out a rear exit of the police department with her mother, who at the time held a seat on the town’s Personnel Board.
The shooting death of Bishop’s brother was ruled an accident in a state police report that relies primarily on the word of Bishop’s mother. But the Braintree officer who wrote the local report that is now missing says Bishop shot her brother after an argument, according to Frazier.
Polio, 87, told the Globe he decided to release Bishop that day because she was too emotional. The Globe explains:
Polio said he allowed officers to release Bishop on the day of the shooting because the lead investigator, Captain Theodore Buker, told him she was too emotional to interview.
State police didn’t interview her and her mother until 11 days later, according to a state police report.
Polio told the Globe he did not know that Bishop had allegedly threatened an auto body worker with the shotgun used to kill her brother while trying to steal a getaway car. Police arrested Bishop at gunpoint at the car repair shop, which was near her home. Frazier, the current police chief, has also said she pointed the gun at a motorist on the street.
Polio also said he didn’t see the state police report until now; he criticizes it for not having enough information on ballistics.
“[I]f this information was at my hands then, yes, I would have to do a lot of thinking before I made a decision then,” Polio told the Globe.
The report, dated several months after the incident, also concludes the shooting was accidental based on the account of Bishop’s mother, Judy, who said she witnessed the incident.
Judy Bishop also claimed in the report not to have heard an initial shotgun blast into the wall of an upstairs bedroom of their house because “she believed that the house was relatively well soundproofed and that such a discharge would not necessarily be heard on another floor in the house.” Amy Bishop fired a third round into the ceiling as she fled the house after killing her brother, according to the account provided by the current police chief.
A spokesman for Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA), who in 1986 was the district attorney who decided not to charge Bishop, told the Globe the decision was based on the state police report.