Police: Dzhokhar was unarmed when captured

posted at 8:41 am on April 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

After more than 18 hours of gunfights and door-to-door searches, the Boston Police Department and its partners in the greater metropolitan area were prepared for anything when they finally caught up with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  According to the Washington Post and the Associated Press, however, the same couldn’t be said for Tsarnaev.  Despite initial reports of a firefight and possibly a suicide attempt, police now acknowledge that the younger terrorist was unarmed when they finally discovered him hiding in a boat in Watertown:

Although police feared he was heavily armed, the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing had no firearms when he came under a barrage of police gunfire that struck the boat where he was hiding, according to multiple federal law enforcement officials.

Authorities said they were desperate to capture Dzhokhar Tsarnaev so he could be questioned. The FBI, however, declined to discuss what prompted the gunfire.

Other law enforcement officials said the shooting may have been prompted by the chaos of the moment and some action that led the officers to believe Tsarnaev had fired a weapon or was about to detonate explosives.

What may have caused the gunfire from the police? Well, it’s really not difficult to figure that out:

“They probably didn’t know whether he had a gun,” said one law enforcement official, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. “Hours earlier, he and his brother had killed a police officer, shot another officer and thrown explosives out of their cars as the police were chasing them. They couldn’t assume that he did not have a gun and more explosives.”

I’m reminded of a scene from Unforgiven, where Clint Eastwood shoots the saloon owner after seeing Morgan Freeman’s body on display outside of it. When Gene Hackman says, “You just shot an unarmed man!”, Eastwood replies, “He should’ve armed himself if he was going to decorate his saloon with my friend.” More to the point, though, one of their colleagues was already not going to see his family ever again, and more than a dozen or so other colleagues were wounded because of Tsarnaev, and they didn’t want to take a risk that they’d be next.  If they were a little tense and quick on the trigger, it’s an issue that they will need to take up later, but still understandable.

At any rate, Tsarnaev survived and is expected to recover.  He’s not talking much any more, though, after having been given his Miranda warning:

The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings acknowledged to the FBI his role in the attacks but did so before he was advised of his constitutional right to keep quiet and seek a lawyer, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Once Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was read his rights on Monday, he immediately stopped talking, according to four officials of both political parties who were briefed on the interrogation but insisted on anonymity because the briefing was private.

After roughly 16 hours of questioning, investigators were surprised when a magistrate judge and a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s office entered the hospital room and read Tsarnaev his rights, the four officials and one law enforcement official said. Investigators had planned to keep questioning him.

If they had planned to keep questioning him, why bring in the judge and file the charges? They could have waited another day or so to arraign Tsarnaev, especially since this took place over a weekend.  I’m not sure any judge — particularly at the federal level — would skip advising a defendant of his rights in a case involving a criminal charge.

Still, it doesn’t make much difference in the criminal case anyway.  Dzhokhar admitted his involvement in the bombing case to their kidnap victim, murdered a police officer, and engaged in a shootout that resulted in the death of his co-conspirator, which makes him eligible for a murder charge on that point, too.  He’s not going anywhere for a very long time whether he talks or not.  The damage comes in the loss of intelligence on whether larger connections in the case exist, but there is some question as to whether Dzhokhar would have known of them even if they exist.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

One sad little old lady…I’m ashamed & saddened that some Americans think like her. Rule of Law means nothing to some I guess.

Conservative4Ever on April 25, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Can’t an “absent-minded” nurse just put an “accidental” over-dosage in his IV drip and get rid of this festering scum before the preening legal scum use him for their expensive anti-American festival of Isalm-apologetics?

profitsbeard on April 26, 2013 at 2:11 AM

He was unarmed, probably out of bullets or his brother had the pistol and he got killed. Either way, one witness had him throwing bombs at the police as he ran.

The issue of deadly force had been crossed. The problem is identification.

1. Did the police positively know it was him before they opened fire?

2. Did they give him a chance to give up?

3. How long before the police enter the backyard to make contact did they start shooting. If audio is any key it wasn’t long. I remember the initial reporting on TV that he was up the block that he might be hiding. It wasn’t long before I heard shots.

So who pulled the trigger (s) and why?

Sometimes you kill the bad guy. That’s just reality. Sometimes you need to show restraint, looking at the big picture.

Trouble with para-military police is they aren’t thinking restraint and they are armed with serious weapons.

archer52 on April 26, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Additional questions.

4. they had air with thermal overhead recording the whole encounter. This before or after initial gunfire? If before, let’s see the whole thing with audio. If he was quiet and not moving and they opened fire, that’s a bad thing-especially on tape.

Never, ever do it on tape.

Jeeezz..

5. Where did they get the money? gun? material? training? help?

Can’t ask that of a dead suspect.

archer52 on April 26, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Katy they didn’t handle it fine. They fired at an unarmed man that might or might not have been the suspect from the night before. They fired first w/o provocation.
That said….
Any BPD who condones murdering unarmed suspects & plants “throw always” is a dirty cop & has no business being on the force. If that is your kind of cop then you truly are the same kind of animal that was captured “unarmed” on the boat.
Conservative4Ever on April 25, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Your sweet little friend had been exploding bombs at them the night before, Mr. Terrorist coddler prisspot with no balls. Why don’t you go off to your Free Mumia rally.

What they need to do is waterboard the worthless little terror brat and get all the info they can out of him. It’s in the interest of public safety. Let’s hurry up and convict him and then let the “special” interrogators have their way with him.

Also, keep that nasty witch of a mother of my country!

bluegill on April 26, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Keep the terror witch out of this country, I mean.

bluegill on April 26, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Your sweet little friend had been exploding bombs at them the night before, Mr. Terrorist coddler prisspot with no balls. Why don’t you go off to your Free Mumia rally.

bluegill on April 26, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Lighten up Francis…

Nobody here is saying Tsarnaev didn’t do it or deserved what he got…

What the more understanding of us are saying is that the police shot without confirming the target.
Then the government blatantly lied to us about how the capture went down.

It should frighten you a lot…

Skywise on April 26, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Katy they didn’t handle it fine. They fired at an unarmed man that might or might not have been the suspect from the night before. They fired first w/o provocation.
That said….
Any BPD who condones murdering unarmed suspects & plants “throw always” is a dirty cop & has no business being on the force. If that is your kind of cop then you truly are the same kind of animal that was captured “unarmed” on the boat.
Conservative4Ever on April 25, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Your sweet little friend had been exploding bombs at them the night before, Mr. Terrorist coddler prisspot with no balls. Why don’t you go off to your Free Mumia rally.

What they need to do is waterboard the worthless little terror brat and get all the info they can out of him. It’s in the interest of public safety. Let’s hurry up and convict him and then let the “special” interrogators have their way with him.

Also, keep that nasty witch of a mother of my country!

bluegill on April 26, 2013 at 10:47 AM

The police didn’t know for sure that it was him when they opened fired. That said, killing him no matter what he did the night before ruins any chance of learning who or what else the brothers were working for/with.

You are far off if you think I actually care for this scum. The Mumia comment is sophomoric at best. The point that went over your head is, he was unarmed. We should never want police to fire first & ask questions later. The slippery slope once traveled is one future I hope I never see.

Conservative4Ever on April 26, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Sunfish, you just don’t get the point. Or you’re playing troll, which your mumia comment could indicate. Just say say something about Palin and get it out of your system.

Frog-marching information to it’s cell is always superior to giving would-be martyrs and suicide-by-cop cases what they were after. Especially the religious zealot type.

S. D. on April 26, 2013 at 7:35 PM

The thermal imagery to me looks like he had a rifle with him. just sayin.

johnnyU on April 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

I’d like to recant that previous statement after reviewing the video a third time. The folding over of the boat cover gives false indications.

johnnyU on April 27, 2013 at 9:17 PM

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