A young man shot to death by police who accused him of plotting to behead law enforcement officers was laid to rest in Boston on Friday as officials, facing questions about the shooting, vowed to make public the video of the incident.
The family of Usaamah Rahim, 26, viewed the video Thursday night showing Rahim being shot outside a CVS pharmacy in Boston early Tuesday. Police say that they had Rahim under surveillance and opened fire when he lunged at them with a knife.
Initially, Rahim's family disputed the account, and his brother, Imam Ibrahim Rahim, alleged that his sibling had been shot in the back. But at a news conference Thursday, family attorney Ronald Sullivan told reporters that Ibrahim Rahim “simply did not have all the facts at that time” and had made the claims about his brother's death based on hearsay from unidentified third parties.
Nonetheless, the shooting has raised tensions at a time of heightened public debate over law enforcement shootings of black men and boys and concerns over the expanding reach of the radical Islamic State. Officials in Boston said they expected to release the video after Rahim was buried.
Law enforcement authorities allege that Rahim and his nephew, David Wright, 24, who is under arrest, were followers of Islamic State and had plotted attacks that included beheading police officers.
Rahim was mourned at the Roxbury mosque where he used to pray.
His family has said they had no inkling he had become radicalized. They have not commented on the video.
At the funeral, a local imam, Abdullah Faaruuq, who earlier had accused police of reckless behavior, stepped back from those allegations.
“I don't believe the police acted irrationally,” Faaruuq said, adding that he did not want to incite distrust. He said it was possible the situation “warranted what they did,” but also suggested that if it had been handled better, Rahim might not have been killed.
Authorities have not discussed in detail how Rahim came under scrutiny. Conspiracy charges filed Wednesday against Wright allege that the men had been discussing beheadings and a possible attack on police officers, often in generic terms.
A third person alleged to have been involved in the conversations, outlined in an 11-page criminal complaint, has not been identified.
The complaint alleges that Rahim bought three fighting knives and a knife sharpener on Amazon.com last month, then called Wright and told him “in guarded language” about a plot to kill people.
During another phone conversation in the hours before his death, the complaint says, Rahim told Wright in part: “I'm just going to … go after them, those boys in blue,” a reference to police officers. “Cause … it's the easiest target.”
Authorities apparently became more concerned after intercepting that call and moved in to confront him.
Wright has been charged with conspiring to destroy evidence; officials say he told Rahim to get rid of his phone.
Follow @TinaSusman for national news