BOSTON (AP) — Surveillance video released Monday of the fatal shooting of a Boston man suspected of plotting to kill police officers shows six plainclothes officers surrounding him before opening fire.
The blurry video shows Usaama Rahim, 26, walking through a CVS parking lot on his way to a bus stop in the city’s Roslindale neighborhood during the early morning hours of June 2.
Officers approach Rahim but back up as Rahim walks toward them in the parking lot. The officers draw their firearms, and Rahim, who is mostly obscured by a light pole during the altercation, falls to the ground.
It is not clear from the video what specifically led officers to draw their weapons or which officers discharged them. Police have said two officers — an FBI agent and a police officer — fired three shots. Officials released the original version of the video, which comes from a nearby Burger King restaurant, as well as a version that zooms in on the encounter.
Police Commissioner William Evans said Monday that the video “speaks for itself,” showing that Rahim, who is black and Muslim, was fatally shot after refusing to drop a military-style knife and that officers were backing away when they fired their guns.
“This guy had a malicious intent,” Evans said. “We averted a serious tragedy that day.”
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said release of the video before his office’s investigation into the incident is complete comes as the public has demanded greater “transparency and accountability” when officers use lethal force. Media and technology, he said, have also made it easier for “rumor, speculation, and inaccurate information” to spread.
“For this reason, we’ve agreed to release certain video evidence earlier when it can help illuminate the facts, and when doing so won’t compromise the integrity of the investigation,” he said.
Authorities last week showed the video to black and Muslim community leaders and Rahim’s family and had promised to release the video publicly after Rahim’s burial, which was Friday.
Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said the video largely corroborated the police account of the shooting. But Abdullah Faaruuq, an imam at the Mosque for the Praising of Allah in Boston, suggested it was “inconclusive” because it’s not clear if Rahim had a knife in his hand.
Ibrahim Rahim, who leads a mosque in Oakland, California, suggested in the hours after the shooting that his brother had been shot in the back. But the family recanted those statements after viewing the video, saying they were based on erroneous third-hand information.
A lawyer for Rahim’s family did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Vincent Lisi, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office, said members of the FBI and Boston police’s Joint Terrorism Task Force attempted to question Rahim after they intercepted a message suggesting Rahim planned to carry out an attack on police officers.
Officials have said Rahim had also talked about beheading anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller before deciding to target police.
Authorities have said the terrorism task force had Rahim under 24-hour surveillance and had intercepted conversations between Rahim and his nephew, David Wright, who was arrested last week on a charge of conspiracy with intent to obstruct a federal investigation. It isn’t clear whether Wright has an attorney.
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