The FBI account of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s apprehension by MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) police in the federal indictment against him was self-serving at best, and fanciful at worst:
On the evening of April 19, 2013, police investigation revealed that there was an individual in a covered boat located at 67 Franklin Street in Watertown. After a stand-off between the boat’s occupant and the police involving gunfire, the individual was removed from the boat and searched.
While it was technically true that Tsarnaev’s apprehension “involved” gunfire, Tsarnaev was not among those who had fired any of the guns that night. The FBI later admitted that Tsarnaev had been unarmed in the boat. All of the dozens — possibly hundreds — of rounds fired off in the moments before the arrest were by arresting officers or their back-up units, not by Tsarnaev. After that cowboy-like melee, the wounded Tsarnaev was arrested.
The FBI account implied a back-and-forth gun battle that ended in Tsarnaev’s surrender. But the reality was that trigger-happy police risked killing an unarmed suspect who already had suffered serious wounds. In essence, it’s only by sheer luck — and poor marksmanship — that Tsarnaev will live to stand trial for his alleged crimes. Interestingly, officials are also investigating whether MBTA Police Officer Richard Donahue was wounded by friendly fire in the shoot-out the night before that resulted in the death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar’s older brother.
Moreover, it wasn’t so much a “police investigation” that revealed Tsarnaev to law enforcement as it was a tip from a Watertown resident after the governor’s curfew had been lifted. Franklin Street resident David Henneberry left his house to inspect his boat after police lifted the Watertown curfew. There Henneberry found Tsarnaev in the boat, bleeding, and called the police. Henneberry’s house was a couple of blocks outside of the official search zone, where police were conducting house-to-house searches. In essence, the dragnet-style search ordered by politicians in charge of the police response had done nothing to apprehend the suspect. Nor did the massive use of military ordnance on display on the streets of Boston-area towns speed the apprehension of the suspects. In fact, the “stay-in-place” curfew — officially voluntary — likely delayed apprehension of the 19-year-old Tsarnaev. The political order to vacate the streets had the practical effect of taking a million pairs of eyes off the getaway scene for the duration of the curfew.
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