Boston leaders: Video proves black suspect not shot in back

2015-06-03 21:18
Abdullah Faaruuq (AP)

Abdullah Faaruuq (AP)

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Boston - A leader of Boston's African-American community said on Wednesday that a police video of the fatal shooting of a terror suspect makes clear he "was not shot in the back".

Darnell Williams, head of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said after viewing the video that he could "150% corroborate" the police account of how the officers engaged with Usaama Rahim.

Boston police and the FBI said Rahim was shot after he menaced the officers with a large military-style knife and refused to drop the weapon.

Williams said the images make clear that Rahim "was not on a cellphone and was not shot in the back," two "inaccurate" allegations made by the dead man's brother, Ibrahim Rahim, who is a prominent Muslim scholar.

Williams added that he's not ready to say the shooting was justifiable, and a Boston Muslim leader, Imam Abdullah Farooq, called the video "inconclusive". He agreed that Rahim wasn't shot in the back, but said the images are of poor quality and it wasn't clear whether police had to use deadly force.

"They might have approached him in a different way," Farooq said.

Social media

Usaama Rahim had been under surveillance by a Joint Terrorism Task Force and spreading online propaganda for the Islamic State group before he was shot and killed on Tuesday, said US Rep. Michael McCaul, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.

The task force was investigating Usaama Rahim because he had been "communicating with and spreading ISIS propaganda online", the Texas Republican said. "These cases are a reminder of the dangers posed by individuals radicalised through social media."

Authorities quickly showed the video to African-American and Muslim community leaders in an effort to dispel rumours about the confrontation. The meeting on Wednesday "was all about pulling the community together", Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said.

Usaama Rahim had been under 24-hour surveillance "for quite a time" and "had some extremism as far as his views", but "a level of alarm" prompted the task force to try to question him on Tuesday, Evans said.

A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that Rahim had been making threats against law enforcement. The official was not authorised to release details of the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Ibrahim Rahim disputed the official account immediately after the shooting, writing on his Facebook page that his brother had been killed while waiting for a bus.

"He was confronted by three Boston Police officers and subsequently shot in the back three times," Ibrahim Rahim wrote. "He was on his cellphone with my dear father during the confrontation needing a witness."

Police said the video shows that officers did not have their weapons drawn when they approached Rahim and that they backed up when he initially lunged at them with the knife.

Read more on:    us  |  security

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