Longform

BEAT COP

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Either way, Woods clearly didn't want to get off the phone--but he did. And after hanging up, Taylor says, he gave her the worst beating of her life.

Taylor told Sergeant Gail Rowe of the DPD's Internal Affairs division that Woods sat her on the toilet, slammed her head into the wall, hit her several times in the face and then ordered her to disrobe and put on a pair of his sweats--"so that I couldn't go back downstairs."

"He lost it, he was not there," Taylor said. "I told him--I go, I was praying, and he goes, `There's no God.' I mean, I was sick, I had to throw up because I kept swallowing blood, and he went with me and stood right next to me."

Woods left the room briefly when a party guest came to his door asking for a blanket. "He had unplugged the phone, and I plugged it back in and called 911," Taylor told Rowe. "And I hung up the phone, and a couple of minutes later the phone rang and it was 911, and they said did anybody call, and he [Alex] said no. But nobody ever came, and then he hit me again and again and again, and the only thing I remember is that when I woke up the next day there was blood all over the pillow and he was really upset, and he told me that I had gone into convulsions and that he had to give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and that I had quit breathing and how sorry he was for doing this."

When Taylor finally made it downstairs that morning, the first thing she saw was "all the glasses of champagne, full. Like all those people heard him start in on me and just left."

But Taylor herself did not leave, and she stayed at Woods's house for several days. A few of his friends and fellow officers saw her during that time, and Taylor says they could not have failed to notice her split lip and black eye. Darlene Clarry, whose husband had gone through the police academy with Woods, came over to visit and was horrified by what she saw.

"I knew they argued and he said mean things," Clarry says, "and my advice always was: Get out. But this time, when I saw those injuries, I was pissed off and scared. Mary told me everything, she didn't lie. I wanted her to come over and stay at my house."

Taylor did not accept Clarry's offer. By now, she says, she was deep into what would turn out to be her last period of forgiveness. "I figured he was so mad, and he'd never beat me that bad before; I figured he meant it when he said he'd never do it again," she recalls. To Sergeant Rowe she said: "He kept waiting on me hand and foot. I mean, he went and got me aspirin and he was wonderful. He kept telling me how sorry he was he had done it."

After three days of this, Taylor felt well enough to return to her job at Shotgun Willie's. Tammy Peterson, a fellow bartender, was there.

"Her lip was split open, she had a black eye, and she had some good handprints around her neck--you could see the marks of fingers," Peterson says. "She said, oh, her horse kicked her. I waited till everyone left the locker room, and then I said, `Okay, do you want to tell me the real truth?' See, I'd been in her same shoes before. I knew. And she told me Alex did it."

Peterson, who had never even met Alex, agonized over what to do. "First of all, all her friends knew he was hitting her," she says. "Why didn't a single one of them call the cops? I called one of those battered places, and they said definitely call, tell someone. But my parents said, don't get involved, Alex is a cop, he'll make your life miserable."

Two days after she first saw Taylor's injuries, Peterson called District 4 and asked to talk to someone about a police officer named Alex. "They told me his last name and asked if there was a problem," Peterson recalls. "I said, yeah, I think he's beating the shit out of his girlfriend."

District 4 referred Peterson to Internal Affairs, which was already receiving other calls.

"I know I called," says the wife of a policeman who asked that her name not be used. "I had seen Mary's face and, frankly, I thought if I didn't do something, she would end up dead. I talked to Captain [Donald] Saltzman at Internal Affairs, and he told me he'd already had three calls."

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Robin Chotzinoff
Contact: Robin Chotzinoff