Video shows Boston police officers shooting dead black Muslim man suspected of terror plot

Law enforcement officials are gathered on a residential street in Everett, Massachusetts on June 2, 2015 in connection to a man shot dead by law enforcement in Boston after coming at them with a large knife when they tried to question him as part of
Law enforcement officials are gathered on a residential street in Everett, Massachusetts on June 2, 2015 in connection to a man shot dead by law enforcement in Boston after coming at them with a large knife when they tried to question him as part of a terrorism-related investigation, authorities said. -- PHOTO: REUTERSPHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - United States authorities on Monday released video footage that shows the fatal shooting by law enforcement of a black Muslim man in Boston who was accused of planning to behead police officers.

The grainy video was filmed by a surveillance camera at a Burger King about 45.7m from where the confrontation with Mr Usaamah Rahim, a 26-year-old security guard, took place in a parking lot last week.

The military-style knife that Mr Rahim was allegedly carrying is not clearly visible. Nor is there any audio of repeated demands that police said they made for Mr Rahim to drop his weapon. The dead man's family said the video was "as important for what it does not show, as for what it shows".

On the tape, Mr Rahim walks towards a bus stop, officers approaching him, then retreating and Mr Rahim falling to the ground. On the scene were five FBI agents and one police officer.

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said he was releasing the video to clamp down on "rumours and bad information" as he continues to investigate whether Mr Rahim's killing was lawful.

"It's become easier than ever for rumour, speculation and inaccurate information to fill the vacuum if reliable facts aren't put out rapidly," he said.

"For this reason, we've agreed to release certain video evidence earlier when it can help illuminate the facts, and when doing so won't compromise the integrity of the investigation."

But Mr Rahim's family said the video shows that their son "was breaking no laws" and asked the public to keep an open mind.

"The video reveals part of the story, but not the entire story. The video shows that Mr. Rahim was shot by law enforcement, but there is no visual evidence of Mr Rahim wielding a knife," they said.

It was just one piece of evidence among many, Mr Conley said.

Mr Rahim's family initially claimed he was shot in the back at a bus stop. They were shown the footage last week before his funeral.

"This unravelled very quickly. I think they made the right call," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters Monday.

Muslim community leaders were also shown the video last week. Imam Abdullah Faaruuq said there was no evidence to back up a claim from MR Rahim's brother that he had been shot in the back.

Neither was it clear what happened, but Mr Rahim "was approaching them. They did back up", Imam Faaruuq acknowledged.

In court papers filed last week, the FBI accused Mr Rahim of buying three military-style knives from Amazon and deciding to "go after" the "boys in blue" because they were "the easiest target".

An alleged associate, Mr David Wright, 25, has been charged with conspiring to obstruct a federal investigation.

Mr Rahim had allegedly been "planning to engage in a violent attack in the United States" since May 26 - a little over a week before his death.

On June 2, he allegedly telephoned Mr Wright at 5am to indicate that he planned to attack police officers. He was shot dead two hours later.

The court papers made no mention of when, where or how Mr Rahim may have become susceptible to extremist Islamist thought.

A senior official warned recently that the United States launches a new investigation into suspected sympathisers of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria extremist group almost every day.