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BOSTON, Mass. (June 8, 2015) — Usaamah Rahim hits the ground in the parking lot, just as a yellow school bus passes through the foreground of the surveillance video.
That much is clear from the footage, obtained from a fast-food restaurant about 50 yards away, showing how police killed the Boston terror suspect last week. Authorities shared the video with media Monday after honoring the family’s request that it not be released until after Rahim’s funeral Friday.
Officials told reporters the footage spoke for itself. Still, it required narration as Rahim, five FBI agents and a Boston Police Department detective appear as moving blobs.
In the video, blurry because of the distance between the camera and the subjects it’s recording, Rahim appears first walking toward a bus station area.
The federal agents and police officer follow him. Within seconds, the entire group backtracks, and a police car arrives with its blue lights activated as the agents appear loosely to surround Rahim. The suspect hits the ground, and at least one of the law enforcement officers keeps his handgun trained on Rahim.
Rahim, who has been accused of wielding a military-style knife at officers, came within 3 to 4 feet of police during the encounter, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said.
Two of the six law enforcement officers opened fire, and one officer “saw the bus. He waited till the bus was gone” to fire on Rahim, the prosecutor said.
Conley said he hadn’t reached any findings yet in his probe, which is happening alongside a federal investigation. When the probe has concluded, the entire investigative file will be released to the media, he said.
Rahim had been under 24-hour surveillance at the time of the shooting. Authorities received information he planned to launch an attack — on police officers, according to previous reports — and wanted to approach him before he got on a bus, said Vincent Lisi, FBI Boston special agent in charge.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said his officers do not carry Tasers, and using nonlethal force wasn’t an option.
“This guy had malicious intent, and our officers were really faced with that,” Evans said, commending officers for “averting a serious tragedy that day.”
Officers told Rahim repeatedly to drop his knife, and he was given every chance to surrender peacefully, the commissioner said.
Though it’s not possible to make out details — and there is no audio on the video — Evans pointed out that Rahim must have posed a threat to make the armed officers back away and surround him.
“They’re not doing that unless there’s a real, live threat being posed,” he said.
His family members viewed the surveillance footage Thursday, and it seemed to calm their initial suspicions. The family asked police not to release the footage publicly until Rahim was buried Friday.
His brother, Ibrahim Rahim, originally posted to social media that police had killed Usaamah Rahim for no reason, shooting him in the back while he spoke on the phone with their father.
But after seeing the video, he acknowledged his initial post was not correct and asked the public not to jump to conclusions. He still wanted to know more about his brother’s death.
“The facts are still coming in. We need more information,” he said.
Counterterrorism officials have said they were monitoring Rahim for at least a couple of years.
He “liked” an ISIS-related page on Facebook, and his social media posts demonstrated an admiration for radical Islam. While U.S. officials say they don’t believe ISIS helped him hatch a specific plan, a law enforcement official said the terror outfit influenced Rahim to a degree.