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2 Officers, 2 Stories Of 1986 Bishop Shooting01:58

This article is more than 10 years old.

As the case continues to unfold, so do the questions.

A Braintree police officer and the town’s former police chief, 24 years later, are telling two very different stories about what happened on the day that Amy shot her brother, Seth.

On Dec. 6, 1986, Bishop fatally shot her brother with a 12-gauge shotgun and, according to recently released documents, fled her home in Braintree with the gun. Then she used the gun to threaten two men in an auto body shop before two Braintree police officers disarmed and arrested her.

He Said, He Said

Back at the Braintree Police station, the stories begin to diverge.

Frank McGee, the lawyer for Ronald Solomini, one of the arresting officers, said Lt. James Sullivan advised Bishop of her rights, and started a conversation with her. She tried to tell Lt. Sullivan the shooting was an accident.

"At that time, I had no knowledge of the release. I didn't order the release. I didn't tell anybody to release her."

--John V. Polio, 1986 Braintree police chief

“But while this is going on,” McGee said, “in the station comes storming her mother, and she’s in a very loud voice saying, ‘Where is John V.? I want to see John V.’ ”

“John V.” is former Braintree Police Chief John V. Polio.

"And she walks down the corridor towards the chief's office," McGee said. "In the meantime, Sullivan gets a call, and says to Ronnie (Solomini), 'The chief says no charges. Let her go.' "

But Polio, now retired and still living in Braintree, says it did not happen that way.

“Never have I spoken to the mother or the daughter, Amy, that day or any days from thereon to today, seen them or spoke to them, " Polio said.

Polio says two of his captains spoke to Bishop's mother and determined that the shooting was accidental.

"At that time, I had no knowledge of the release," Polio said. "I didn't order the release. I didn't tell anybody to release her. Truthfully, I had gone home after that, and I thought she, well, as it turns out, they had turned her over, at some point I heard that, to the mother."

But McGee doesn't buy it.

"I know one thing, and I've been around cops long enough: No lieutenant is going to make that kind of call on his own," McGee said. "No captain is going to make that kind of call."

Residents Remain Silent

In Braintree on Wednesday, it was clear that residents do not have confidence in the way police handled the case but are reluctant to talk about the incident openly. All over town, at the council on aging, at the lumber yard, at the hardware store, and at three popular coffee shops, people did not want their opinions revealed publicly.

At the Olympic Diner on Washington Street, however, Paula Bramwell was willing to go on the record. Bramwell lived around the corner from the Bishops. She said in 1986, Braintree was run by an "old-boy network."

"I do feel like they felt we had a great town and nothing ever happened, and they sort of played things down a lot," Bramwell said. "I just seem to remember it being brushed off as being an accident and that was that, and it was over and done."

But of course the Amy Bishop story was not over and done that day.

Twenty-four years later, people in Braintree are wondering if Bishop's colleagues in Alabama might be alive today had a more thorough investigation of her brother's shooting been done back then.

This program aired on February 25, 2010.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.


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