BOSTON (AP) — Surveillance video showing terror investigators fatally shooting a man they said had “malicious intent” to kill officers doesn’t show him brandishing a weapon or approaching officers aggressively as police have maintained, his family said Monday.
Usaama Rahim’s family said in a statement that the blurry video shows that the 26-year-old security guard was not the initial aggressor and that he did not appear to be breaking any laws as he walked toward a bus stop on his way to work on June 2.
They suggested many unanswered questions remain, including whether deadly force was necessary and whether the decision to approach Rahim with a team of armed police officers “in a military-like formation, without benefit of a warrant, constituted an attempted illegal arrest.”
“The family asks that the public keep an open mind,” the statement said. “The video reveals part of the story, but not the entire story.”
Police Commissioner William Evans said Monday in releasing the video that officers “made the right call,” drawing their guns only after backing away and giving Rahim “multiple chances” to drop the military-style knife he was holding.
“We averted a serious tragedy that day,” he said. “I don’t think he was going to go down very easy. …We can second-guess this, but it unraveled so quickly. I believe my officers acted responsibly.”
The brief video comes from a security camera from a nearby Burger King. It shows a man identified by police as Rahim walking through a CVS parking lot on his way to a bus stop in the city’s Roslindale neighborhood.
Six officers, who authorities say were in plainclothes, approach Rahim but appear to back up as Rahim advances toward them.
The officers, who encircle Rahim, then draw their firearms. Rahim, who is mostly obscured by a light pole during the altercation, falls to the ground a few moments later.
There is no audio on the video and it is not clear 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 on Monday released the original version of the video as well as a version that zooms in on the encounter. In both, it’s impossible to discern faces and people resemble little more than dark silhouettes with no distinguishing features. The video also isn’t clear enough to make out whether Rahim, who is black and Muslim, was holding a knife.
Authorities last week showed the video to black and Muslim community leaders and Rahim’s family. They promised to release the video publicly after Rahim’s burial, which was Friday.
Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said last week that the video “150 percent” corroborated the police account of the shooting. But Abdullah Faaruuq, an imam at a Boston mosque where the family prayed, suggested it was “inconclusive” because it’s not clear if Rahim had a knife in his hand.
In the hours after the shooting, Ibrahim Rahim, who leads a mosque in Oakland, California, said on social media that his brother had been shot in the back. The family has since recanted those statements, saying they were based on erroneous third-hand information.
Authorities have said the FBI and Boston police’s Joint Terrorism Task Force had Rahim under 24-hour surveillance.
They say officials intercepted conversations between Rahim and his nephew David Wright that suggested Rahim planned to carry out an attack on police officers soon.
Rahim had also talked about beheading anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller before deciding to target “boys in blue,” they say.
Wright, 24, of Everett, was arrested last week on a charge of conspiracy with intent to obstruct a federal investigation. He’s being held in custody pending a June 19 hearing. Wright’s attorney declined to comment.
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