Return to Transcripts main page


Boston Police News Conference; Police Never Anticipated Suspect Would Pull Knife; Community Leader States Suspect Not Shot In Back; Boston Surveillance Tape. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired June 3, 2015 - 13:00   ET


DARNELL WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, URBAN LEAGUE OF EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS: The last time we suffered one of these tragedies where the Officer Moynihan and Angelo West event, the police had many of the same people in the room, they had the same kind of conversation. And one of the requests that we made when the video was clear, when it was fairly obvious in watching the video once what had happened that they would do it repeatedly. They would do it the next time it happened. This time, there is video. We did see it. It certainly makes it clear that the gentlemen was not shot in the back, that he was shot in the front, but the camera is at a distance, so you can't see it as clearly and yet they're still working for the same level of transparency.

So, what we're working to establish as a community as we do with the police community relationships and how we deal with these incidents is that when it happens, that very quickly, the next day, immediately, we're together. We're talking. We're finding out what happened. And we're communicating with the public, with our constituencies and with each other.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was the question?

WILLIAMS: What was the --

UNIDENTIFIED Can you lay out the exact sequence of the events that you saw on the video? Where does it start? What do you see first? What do you (INAUDIBLE)?

WILLIAMS: The -- well, the - I'm going to sort of differ to the police on the exact sequence of the events. I can talk about what I saw and my reaction to it. But I'll let them talk about --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see the police approach him. Did you see him pull out a knife?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you guys could hold up, --

WILLIAMS: We'll let them -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- (INAUDIBLE) police commissioner (INAUDIBLE) and we'll get back to (INAUDIBLE.) OK? All right? WILLIAMS: Commissioner, the question was raised by one of the media

core that they want to get a sense of (INAUDIBLE.) The question was really particularly is that what was the sequence of events of what we saw on nthe video?


WILLIAMS: Yes, please.

EVANS: -- and then we can finish. Again, with me is special agent in charge of Boston, Vince Lisi, here. And I want to thank the clergy as well as thank everyone who came to today's meeting. Today's meeting was all about pulling the community together. I think when we had an officer involved shooting over about a month ago, I made it clear that the protocol that we followed then would be followed here. And we did that. We had Muslim community. We had the clergy, all of the denominations from around Boston. We had elected officials, NAACP, the Urban League. We had everybody in that room. And, again, the whole idea was to be as transparent as possible.

Now, because of the nature of the information and some of it being classified, obviously we couldn't get into great detail. But as we said yes today, you know, this was an investigation that was ongoing. It required 24-7 surveillance of the individual in question. At about 7:18, our officers went out there to only question the individual because the level of our concern rose to the level that we needed to question him. I think we never anticipated what his reaction would be, and that he would pull out, obviously, a military knife and approach the officers. I think what we seen in the video was the officers walking up to the suspect in question, no weapons being drawn, just to speak to the individual. At that point, the video clearly shows these four or five officers backtracking away from the suspect as he's coming at them.

Now, the weapons aren't clearly displayed but clearly by the officers' actions, all were back-stepping as this individual was coming towards them. It's at some point when the suspect gets close enough to cause imminent harm to the officer, that the officer discharged his weapon. Both the FBI in Boston both discharged. The individual was hit three times and he passed away. But, you know, the reason we spoke today because there was a lot of misinformation out there about us, the individual at the bus stop being shot in the back. It was just to sort of calm down the emotions and, again, to explain to all our community partners that this is what happened.

[13:05:00] The FBI, Suffolk County D.A. is going to -- they're both going to do their investigations on the use of force. But at this time, the whole reason for bringing the community together, was to give them what information we could and we had this video. And we've made it clear we're going release the video and I think that at least disspells some of the rumors, some of the - some of the tensions that might build. I think we laid it out for them, and I hope they appreciate that. But that's going to be our policy going (INAUDIBLE.)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE.) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he threaten to behead officers?

EVANS: Again, there's some information we can't talk about, that's classified at this time. That's an area we can't we can't go at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commissioner, why were four or five officers - why were four or five officers needed to question him?

EVANS: Well, all I can say is, again, this guy required 24-7 surveillance. So, we thought the threat was severe enough that we had to approach him. We never expected what happened, but, you know, hopefully it will all come out later so there's a better understanding of the level of threat. But I can't go into anything more than -- you know, it was a very serious threat and that's why we didn't take it lightly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this video not --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may not be able to respond to this either, but I'm wondering if (INAUDIBLE) surveil and if there were any reactions to Sinaia Bernanke (ph), if there were any comments related to the Boston marathon bombing that they have increased the concern throughout this (INAUDIBLE.)

EVANS: I can't comment on that.

WILLIAMS: The only thing that I would add, the commissioner made a comment about the community coming together. And this is not our first time coming together. And I wanted to commend the commissioner, to commend staff, the Suffolk County district attorney community (ph) office and special agent Lisi by bringing the clergy, community activists and civil rights organizations together, it sends a very, very strong message not only to this city, but to the commonwealth but also to the nation, that when we sit down at the table and we talk about these issues where we see whatever the evidence that is available, then we can be able to relay out that this is not something that happens every day.

So, I want to commend Commissioner Evans for taking that kind of a leadership role that really speaks to where the Boston city of Boston is as it relates to these kinds of incidents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we want to all hear from you, and the Islamic leaders, with your impression, does it jive with the commissioners impression that the officers were backing up and this suspect was going forward in an apparent aggressive manner?

WILLIAMS: Based on the video that we saw, I would 150 percent collaborate what the commissioner had just stated that there was an approach to the suspect to talk with him and he - the officers were backing up what I saw. And then, there were things that went down, as you already know. And that's an accurate statement. The only reason why we can't go beyond that because the district attorney has to do his job for - as an ongoing investigation to determine whether or not that that was a justifiable shoot. And that's kind of like where we are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) physically recreate how the suspect was holding the knife (INAUDIBLE.)

WILLIAMS: I don't think it's appropriate to go into that kind of align because that's still part of the investigation. So, I think the district attorney has to do his job. And his team, they will tell us who, what, when, where, why and how. And that's going to take some time for them to go through all of the evidence and as well as all of the surveillance. I would believe, you know, and I am a forensic files kind of a guy. So, they've got to enhance that video so they can actually see all of the things that need to be transpired for him to do his report.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this video far less clear than the (INAUDIBLE) video was?

WILLIAMS: Say that again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this video far less clear as to what happened and whether it's justified (INAUDIBLE)?

WILLIAMS: I think the video is clear but it's distant. But the fact is that you cannot recognize who's in the video per say. You just see the silhouettes of individuals doing what they're doing. So, we know who the officers are. We know who the suspect is, et cetera, et cetera. So, that needs to be determined by the district attorney's role whether or not it was a justifiable shoot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you clearly see the knife in the video? Can you see that he's holding a military style knife in the video?

WILLIAMS: I'm not going answer that question because I think that's where the investigation will determine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you see it though? You looked at the video.

WILLIAM: I looked at the video and I'm going to let the investigation tell you what was in his hand, where it was and what happened after that. I'm not law enforcement. I'm a community -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he was holding something. You could see he was holding something?

WILLIAM: That's the third time you asked me that question.


EVANS: Again, I'll have to turn it over to - the larger investigation is an FBI investigation. I don't want to comment on it. And I don't know if he can at this time either.

[13:10:03] VINCENT LISI, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI: Yes, we can't. I mean, we can't comment on any of the pending investigations. I can't say whether or not anything that happened in Warwick was or was not related to what happened here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- are connected to the incident here in Boston. Is there another (INAUDIBLE) --

LISI: Again, we're not going to comment on any pending investigations (INAUDIBLE.)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple more question, please. A couple more.

DAN CONLEY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SUFFOLK COUNTY: What I want to talk about is something that the police commissioner brought up and this is a bit unusual, right. This is a - this is a step forward, perhaps, than what you've seen from law enforcement in the past.

So, the last police involved shooting that we had, we made a decision, let's put the video out there to community leaders, let them make their own judgment on it earlier than we ordinarily would. We ordinarily wouldn't release video until the full investigation was done. Well, that could take many, many months. And as the police commissioner said, that - all that creates is a lot of rumors.

So, we decided, once again, to take this unprecedented step, if you will. You don't see this around the country but we think it's important to let the community leaders take a look at it and make their own judgment. I mean, I'm sure you're going to question everybody that was in that room to ask them what they saw. But as Darnell Williams just said, the most important thing to do now is let us do our work. I'm not going stop you from doing yours. I know you won't stop asking those questions. But it's very, very important that we get to the very bottom of exactly what happened and we pledge that we will do that. Please give us the opportunity. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner, knowing what you did leading up to the events yesterday, were you issuing any sort of warning to arraign (INAUDIBLE) about protecting themselves?

EVANS: Well, over the last couple weeks, we had got intelligence from our Boston region intelligence that military and law enforcement lives were a threat. They had disseminated that information. So, over the last couple weeks, we had put out several notices on our brick report about the threat of law enforcement in military bases being attacked.

So, this has been a notice that we've put out over the last month about us all being on our guard because of the intelligence that we had and what has happened, not only across our country, but across the nation where officers have been attacked, military have been attacked. So, we've put that information out repeatedly over the last couple months.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does anyone know why Boston appears to be attracted to terrorists?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think like Boston is unlike any other city. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAQUDIBLE) give him a chance to speak.

ABDULLAH FAARUUQ: My name's Abdullah Faaruuq. I'm from the mosque (INAUDIBLE) and I'm speaking on behalf of the Muslim community. We want to express our gratitude to the officials by opening up this venue so that we could see what happened. The film, the video is inconclusive. I don't think that he was shot in the back, but virtue of that. However, we couldn't see clearly at all. He was asking the question of whether he had brandished a knife or not? It was like one 20th of the overall frame, very far away. So, we can't be clear as to what transpired.

We want to express our gratitude. That's number one. The second thing we want to do is to be quiet until we see how this thing unfolds. So, we can be clear about what they are able to share with us. And they said that they wanted to be transparent. We've gotten good feedback. And we wanted to know - we'd be happy -- we are happy for this reason as well. That this -- the greater community of people, Muslim leaders and Christian leaders and civic leaders are involved in this.

So, opening up this venue, especially you as news reporters, how important is it for you to be here so that we know what happened? We can't say what happened. We weren't there. We do see a very vague video that is not clear as to what transpired. Let me see what -- it wasn't at a bus stop. He was not shot in the back. And there's no detail enough clear on the video to tell us exactly what happened. However, he was approaching them. They did back up. And evidentially, by evidence of his death, that he was fired upon.

So, our community and our congregation of Muslim throughout Boston are very determined in opening up our hearts and minds to find out exactly what transpired. There are a lot of questions that we have and we hope that these questions will be answered in the future so that the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see anything that troubled you or no - I mean, you couldn't find the answers definitively. But was there anything --

FAARUUQ: It's inconclusive. She's telling me what to say. Inconclusive. And that's the last thing I can say because I can't make out clearly what transpired. I do feel, personally, this is not from the Muslim community, they might have approached him in a different way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple more questions, please.

[13:15:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you spell your name for us?

FAARUUQ: Abdullah, a-b-d-u-l-l-a-h. Last name Faaruuq, f-a-a-r-u-u-q. Mosque for the Praising of Allah.

QUESTION: And would she like to speak? Would she -

FAARUUQ: Oh, she's going to speak. QUESTION: I know. (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no comment. We all, from the Muslim community throughout Boston (INAUDIBLE).

FAARUUQ: We - we agree on the same thing. We're not going to try to approach these until we have more information. We're giving the investigators time enough to go ahead and dig into it more deeply and to clarify some of what transpired.


FAARUUQ: We're not satisfied until it's fully vetted and we find out what's happening. They're not satisfied. Are you satisfied yet? Not yet.

COMMISSIONER WILLIAM EVANS, BOSTON POLICE: Until the information comes out, again, there's a lot of classified information that I think when it's released people will have a better sense of the level of threat and I think that's what's missing from the video here. I think what the video clearly shows is, you know, the weapons aren't clearly visible, but you can clearly see officers approaching the suspect here with no weapons drawn. And then all of a sudden you see five FBI agents and Boston retreating, backing on their feet, backing on their feet, with their hands up like this. And from the witnesses accounts, from officers accounts giving commands, drop the weapon, drop the weapon, and then, unfortunately, we see the suspect shot.

So I think the video's clear as far as five officers are retreating who would never be retreating unless there was an imminent threat. And you see them probably retreat a good 15 to 20 yards with a threat coming at them. I think we can all agree we see that in the video. The weaponry isn't as clear, but the fact that five officers had to retreat with a threat coming at them, I don't think anyone can doubt that was in the video.


FAARUUQ: I'd like to say one more thing.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) on the video at all (INAUDIBLE).

EVANS: There's - there's - there's some rain. There's a few raindrops on the lens. But, again, this is an ongoing investigation. The FBI and the DA's office is going to continue with this investigation. And as we get more information, we'll get that out to you.


FAARUUQ: Yes. The issue now is about the living. The family is pained and suffering. And whether - however this pans out, a mother has lost her child. Her youngest. This is my concern for today. About the ongoing investigation, we have a lot of people involved in that. We'll see how it turns out.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE). UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) to leave it there. That's the final comment. Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. On that note.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so there you have it, the news conference from Boston. The Boston Police Commission William Evans making it clear that he wanted to bring in these religious leaders, community leaders, to show them this grainy video from a far to show that this individual, Usaama Rahim, 26 years old, was not shot in the back, was not just an innocent bystander, if you will. They say the police were actually backing up, that he was approaching them with this military-style knife.

Let's get some analysis on what we just heard. Our national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick, is joining us, as is our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes.

Deborah, so let's talk a little bit about the video. You heard some of the African-American leaders there from the National Urban League, Muslim leaders, plus the police, the FBI, the - as well as the Suffolk county district attorney, they were showing what was going on. Give us your reaction to what we just heard.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was interesting because it wasn't really until the end of the press conference that they mentioned the weaponry. The knife that was recovered at the scene. And it appears that from the surveillance video, because of the distance of where it was taken, that it's hard to make out whether the suspect was holding a knife. However, he is the aggressor. He is the one who is approaching five law enforcement officials, officers, both police and FBI agents. And they are seen on that tape, according to the community leaders, backing away.

One of the reasons that they did go public with this is because the brother of the man who was shot and killed put out a very different story, saying that his brother was on a cell phone talking to the father. Well, the community leader said, no, there was no cell phone. He was not talking on a cell phone.

Also at issue was how he was shot. The suspect's brother saying he was shot three times in the back. The community leader saying, no, that's not the case. He was shot three times, but he was shot once in the abdomen, once in the torso and once in the shoulder. And so they released this just to put to bed rumors because this investigation could take a couple of weeks, if not months. They wanted to make sure that this was sort of put to bed, that people had the facts at hand.

[13:20:01] There's still much more work to be done. But, Wolf, what we are learning is that this clearly was a violent, extremist plot, by all accounts homegrown terrorist because they were from the United States, Ussama Rahim. There were two, if not three people who were involved in this and all of that is sort of now being looked at being wrapped up. One of the men, David Wright (ph), expected to be in court later today. And, Wolf, we were - there had been rumors, reports that maybe this was a potential beheading, but, if fact, we're being told by high level law enforcement sources that there's a lot of speculation, that it's not outside the realm of possibility, but the charges that we're going to see against this man this afternoon, they do not talk about beheading. So we're waiting for that. That's expected to happen at 3:30, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that was a question that was asked to the police commissioner in Boston, whether there was a plot to use that military style knife to behead police officers. He didn't want to get into that. He didn't deny it, didn't confirm it, didn't want to talk about that at all. Said it's just all - the investigation is continuing.

Do we know more about this individual who was arrested, this David Wright, and the relationship he had with the dead suspect in this particular case, Usaama Rahim.

FEYERICK: Yes, information extremely preliminary right now, but it appears that they did know each other, that they had some form of online communication, possibly additional communication as well. But once the man, Usaama Rahim, was shot, then it quickly lead investigators to this man, and there's another individual who is also right now being looked at very closely in connection with this alleged plot.

BLITZER: All right, stand by. I want to bring Tom Fuentes into this.

Let's talk a little bit, Tom, about this knife. He was under surveillance for, what, two years, round the clock, 24/7, Usaama Rahim, by the U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force. And this military style knife, you pointed out yesterday here on CNN, it looks very similar to the knife that Jihadi John had when he was beheading Americans. Talk a little bit about what you know.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that's the concern. I mean, yes, the FBI is saying that they have no positive information that he actually was going to use it and behead somebody, but they can't rule it out. You know, ISIS has been putting out for more than a year to all of its followers and wannabes worldwide to go to the police, go to the military soldiers in uniform and behead them and do it in a public manner, that it will be - you know, that they can put that video out for recruiting.

We saw this last year in London, two soldiers, right on the street, beheaded, in front of witnesses. We saw an attempt at that in Sidney, Australia, last September. That plan was thwarted. We saw a hatchet attack on a New York City - on four New York City police officers shortly after that. So that's basically a standing order, if you will, from ISIS to its followers and wannabes.

So now this guy goes out, they've had him under cover. They became very concerned that whatever he was going to do, and they weren't positive what that was, but it was not going to be good. And they better talk to him now and not wait until he's in a secure place, like back at his home or some other place.

And, thankfully, they did that because who knows. You wouldn't want to get on a bus or go into a restaurant with this guy next to you with a foot long military knife. You don't know when that would come out. It would take less than a second to kill somebody, or worse, with that knife. So, you know, they had to challenge him, talk to him. And they didn't even go up to him with guns drawn.

BLITZER: So your suspicion, Tom, is that the - the knife he had, the fact that it's so similar to Jihadi John's knife, and we can show a picture of these two knives, very similar. Not exact, but very similar. You don't believe it was just a coincidence?

FUENTES: Well, I don't know for sure, but, you know, when these guy - when ISIS recruits guys like this guy, you know, they want to immolate ISIS. And when you see Jihadi John with the same knife standing over someone who later is beheaded in a video in a gruesome manner and these individuals worldwide want to join that organization and be like Jihadi John and the others, you know, you can say that it's a very strong possibility that's what he was going to do. It's not a letter opener. I t's not a smaller knife like a dagger that you could kill somebody with. That knife can be used and has been used in other ISIS cases to behead people.

BLITZER: Tom, I want you to stand by.

I want to bring in Congressman Peter King. He's a Republican from New York. He's a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, the Intelligence Committee as well.

Congressman, what have you heard about this Boston case, because it's so, so disturbing.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Well, first of all, I have a great regard for Commissioner Evans in Boston. He does an outstanding job. I think he has really said all that can be said right now. And I agree with Tom Fuentes also. He is a person who is under 24/7 surveillance for the last several years. This is a serious matter. And there's others involved. And, you know, the investigation has to play out because that's going to be brought out probably at a peace mill basis.

[13:25:00] But the fact is, this was a serious matter. The FBI and the Boston Police did, I believe, what had to be done. And I think Commissioner Evans did the right thing today in ending these false rumors that are being spread about being shot in the back.

But, again, it shows the nature of the threat and it shows that ISIS is really, in some ways, in a very significant way changed the battlefield by being able to recruit people over the Internet. Al Qaeda was never really successful at that. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was somewhat more successful. But ISIS really seemed to have perfected this devious art. And as Tom Fuentes said, you know, right in New York, we had the attack with the hatchet and you saw what was attempted the Sidney, Australia. So this is a - ISIS being able to appeal to people on the fringes and to get them to act.

BLITZER: Well, do you know, congressman, for sure, that this individual, Usaama Rahim, who was killed by the police yesterday, brandishing this military-style knife, or this other individual, David Wright, who was just arrested, is going to be facing some charges, an arraignment later today, were they both influenced, inspired or even directed by ISIS? Do you know that for sure? KING: No, all I can say is that this was a very serious investigation,

constant surveillance by the Boston Police and the JTTF. And I'm merely doing what Tom was doing, seeing what's happened over the last several months. I think at this stage, I think it's a good assumption, but I can't say that as a fact that this was ISIS inspired. There just seems to be too - you know, too many similarities. But, again, we'll have to wait till it fully come out.

BLITZER: The fact that this individual, Usaama Rahim, was under surveillance 24/7 for, what, two years and then all of a sudden they decide to go out yesterday morning and question him early in the morning, is that do you believe the result of what happened outside of Dallas, in Garland, Texas, a couple of weeks ago? There's a more aggressive nature now to try to deal with these potential threats?

KING: Well, there might be a heightened awareness but usually they don't move on a person until they believe that the plot may - might be becoming operational. But, again, I'm only assuming based on past practices. But, no, I think Garland heightened people's awareness. But even before that, we saw what happened in New York. We know that ISIS is doing this type of recruiting, and we know that more people are being recruited over the Internet. So, again, we have to wait for all the details to come out.

But I would say, listen, the Boston Police, certainly after the Boston Marathon bombing, they - you know, they've been on high alert, you know, for a long time, especially for the last two years. I don't think it took Garland to necessarily, you know, cause them to focus. They've been - they focused and Bill Evans, before him Ed Davis, are very, very focused commissioners.

BLITZER: Do you have any idea how many people in the United States are under 24/7 surveillance by the FBI and other law enforcement - the Joint Terrorism Task Force, because that's a pretty big deal and it uses a lot of manpower to undertake that kind of 24/7 surveillance.

KING: Yes, I can't give you a number, Wolf. You're right, 24/7, that takes a lot of bodies to carry out that type of surveillance. But I do know that throughout the country there are - the FBI and JTTF, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and local police are monitoring people who could be radicalized by ISIS, people who may have been radicalized by ISIS, and this is done in a variety of ways. But this is a - really an extra dimension to a threat that we face from Islamist terrorism.

BLITZER: One final question totally unrelated, although it might be partially related. When are you going to announce whether or not you're running for president of the United States?

KING: Again, Wolf, I'm still looking at that. And as I told you, I will - I will make sure you're the first to know.

BLITZER: But it's going to be presumably soon, right?

KING: You know, I can't wait too much longer, I'll put it that way.

BLITZER: All right. All right. A lot of other people - I don't know if you've noticed, a whole bunch of other Republicans have already announced that they're running for president and we'll see what you decide.

KING: I know. Right.

BLITZER: Congressman, thanks very much.

KING: Wolf, thank you.

BLITZER: All right, thank you.

Still ahead, we'll have more on the race for the White House. A senior adviser for the Hillary Clinton campaign standing by to join us live. We're going to get his reaction to the rise in Secretary Clinton's negative poll numbers. We're going to talk campaign strategy, what is she planning on doing? All that and much more. That's coming up.