He Never Made Contact with the Murder Weapon. Alabama Executed His Death Sentence.
Nathaniel Woods was unarmed when someone shot and killed three Birmingham police officers in 2004. However, Woods, a Black man, was found guilty of capital murder in connection with the killings of the three white officers.
For the final time, Papa cradled his little grandson. He nibbled on a piece of food. He posed for family portraits, his smiles as contorted as the discussion. Then someone in authority stated that the time had come.
Nathaniel Woods, the center of attention, reassured his distraught father that everything would be fine. I love you, Dad, he stated. However, when y’all walk out this gate today, I’m going to walk out with you, but you won’t know it.
It was late afternoon on March 5, 2020, the cloudy day designated by the State of Alabama as Mr. Woods’ final day. He’d been convicted 15 years prior in connection with the shooting deaths of three Birmingham police officers — and had been dubbed Cop Killer Nathaniel Woods ever since.
However, Mr. Woods never murdered anyone. He was unarmed when the officers were shot and killed as they rushed into a tight drug house to serve him with a warrant for his arrest on a petty charge.
Alabama — one of 26 states in which an accomplice can face the death penalty, according to the American Civil Liberties Union — alleged that Mr. Woods purposefully drew the cops to their deaths. It was not necessary to establish that he killed anyone in order to obtain a conviction for capital murder.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 11 of the country’s 1,458 executions between 1985 and 2018 involved defendants who did not conspire or commit murder. Even rarer are instances in which the individual was unarmed and uninvolved in a violent conduct, such as a robbery – instances such as Mr. Woods, whose defenders assert that he had no prior knowledge of the violence and ran in horror as the bullets flew.
“Nathaniel Woods is completely innocent,” another death row convict, Kerry Spencer, wrote in favor of Mr. Woods in a letter. “I am certain of this since I am the individual who fired and killed all three officers.”