Two grainy videos showing the moments leading up to the death of Usaamah Rahim don’t appear to support earlier claims that the man under FBI surveillance was shot in the back in a Boston parking lot.
The videos, released by Boston authorities, show Rahim, a private security officer accused of plotting to behead law enforcement personnel, walking across the parking lot to a bus stop seconds before authorities approach, police said.
At least five officers are seen surrounding Rahim, who seems to walk toward them at one point. As the incident appears to escalate, a yellow car parked nearby is seen driving off. Shortly after, Rahim appears to double over and falls to the ground.
Police said they opened fire when Rahim lunged at them with a knife. But the videos, shot from surveillance cameras at a Burger King about 50 yards away, do not clearly show the large knife police have described Rahim as wielding in the moments before he was shot.
Initially, Rahim's family disputed the police version of events, and his brother, Imam Ibrahim Rahim, said that his sibling had been shot in the back.
Suffolk County Dist. Atty. Daniel F. Conley, who released the video, said that he was doing so to help “tamp down rumors and bad information,” and that he had not yet made a legal determination in the officers’ use of force.
But Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said the video “speaks for itself” and praised law enforcement officials, saying they “averted a serious tragedy that day.”
“It was either us or them, and thank God none of us were hurt,” said Evans, who added that Rahim was within “striking distance” of officers and was given “many chances” to put down his weapon.
Rahim and his nephew, David Wright, 24, had been under law enforcement surveillance for at least several days, police said, and had allegedly discussed Rahim’s plan to attack officers.
According to a complaint filed against Wright, authorities intercepted a call Tuesday between Wright and Rahim hours before the shooting in which Rahim said, “I'm just going to … go after them, those boys in blue,” a reference to police officers, “cause … it's the easiest target.”
After the call, authorities said, Rahim left his house and headed toward a bus stop near a CVS pharmacy. When officials with Boston police and the FBI approached him without guns drawn, police said, Rahim pulled out a large knife “unprovoked” and ignored commands to drop it before being shot to death.
Wright has been charged with conspiring to destroy evidence after officials said he told Rahim to destroy his phone.
The FBI and district attorney’s office are conducting two use-of-force investigations related to the incident, officials said.
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