DA: FBI, BPD justified in shooting knife-wielding man to death in Roslindale parking lot

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said today that a Boston police officer and an FBI agent had good reason to fatally shoot Usaamah Rahim in the parking lot of the Washington Street CVS last year: They already feared he was planning to kill a police officer when he started was coming at them with "a large, military-style knife."

In a statement today, Conley said he concluded no charges were warranted because Rahim:

Posed the threat of death or serious injury to the Task Force officers at the time of the shooting. Their use of deadly force was a lawful exercise of self-defense or defense of others and did not constitute a crime under Massachusetts law.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force had Rahim, a resident of a nearby apartment complex, under constant surveillance, saying that he and accomplices had made plans to try to behead full-time Islam hater Pamela Geller. On the morning of June 2, officials have said, they were particularly wary because Rahim had made a phone call in which he decided that rather than taking the time to go after Geller in New York, he'd take out "some boys in blue" in Boston.

Conley's report on the incident states:

After listening to the 5:00 AM conversation, a JTTF supervisor notified the surveillance team that, due to the imminent threat to law enforcement officers and the public, the surveillance team should stop Mr. Rahim for questioning and prevent him from boarding public transportation. JTTF personnel were aware that a bus that Mr. Rahim frequently rode stopped at a bus stop on Washington Street on its way to the Forest Hills MBTA Station. JTTF personnel were also aware that a number of police officers and members of the public could be potential targets inside the Forest Hills MBTA Station.

At 6:53 AM, surveillance officers watched Mr. Rahim leave his home at 375 Blue Ledge Drive in Roslindale – a short walk to the CVS parking lot at 4600 Washington Street. Mr. Rahim walked directly to the CVS store and went inside. After approximately five minutes, the surveillance officers watched Mr. Rahim walk back to his apartment. As Mr. Rahim had not tried to board an MBTA bus, the JTTF supervisor told the surveillance team not to stop him, but, instead, to continue watching him. The JTTF alerted both Boston Police Department and FBI tactical units to come to the area.
Shortly after 7:00 AM, the surveillance officers watched Mr. Rahim leave his apartment and again walk towards the CVS parking lot. He was carrying a backpack and walked toward the bus stop on Washington Street. Because of Mr. Rahim’s stated intention to attack a law enforcement officer and the threat to innocent civilians, the JTTF supervisor told the surveillance team to stop Mr. Rahim for questioning and prevent him from boarding public transportation.

Mr. Rahim walked from the back of the CVS parking lot to the sidewalk on the inbound side of Washington Street, near the MBTA bus stop. As he waited there, surveillance officers approached Mr. Rahim with their weapons holstered. Mr. Rahim had placed a call on his cellular telephone, speaking first with a brother and then to his father. Mr. Rahim was speaking to his father as the surveillance officers approached him. That conversation was recorded, and the recording captured much of the ensuing confrontation with the involved task force officers. Mr. Rahim began the conversation by stating to his brother that “unfortunately, you will not be seeing me again.” Shortly thereafter, the closest task force officer (who will be referred to hereinafter as “BPD-1”) walked to within a few feet of Mr. Rahim.
As he approached Mr. Rahim, with his weapon holstered and his hands raised above his head displaying his badge in his left hand, BPD-1 identified himself as a police officer. When BPD-1 asked Mr. Rahim to put his hands in the air, Mr. Rahim responded “do I know you?” Mr. Rahim then drew the 13-inch Ontario Knife Company Model SP6 Fighting Knife from a sheath he was carrying in his waist area. In response, BPD-1 and the other approaching task force officers drew their guns and ordered Mr. Rahim to drop the knife. Mr. Rahim refused to drop his weapon and began to advance on the officers. The task force officers continued to shout commands to Mr. Rahim, ordering him repeatedly to drop the knife. Task force officers backed away from Mr. Rahim as he advanced on them with his knife in his hand. The task force officers backed away approximately 48 feet, essentially the entire distance of the parking lot from Washington Street to the first set of raised barriers in front of the CVS pharmacy. As he advanced on the task force officers, and apparently in response to their orders to him to drop the knife he was brandishing, Mr. Rahim repeatedly shouted back “you drop yours” and finally “why don’t you shoot me.”

At this point, one of the task force agents was backed up against the curb. Concerned for his safety and that of members of the public in the various establishments in the vicinity, BPD-1 fired a single round towards the center of Mr. Rahim’s torso. A second task force officer (who will be referred to hereinafter as “FBI-1”) fired two additional rounds. All three rounds struck Mr. Rahim, who collapsed, still holding the knife in his hand. Task force agents then contacted Boston Emergency Medical Services and kicked the knife away from Mr. Rahim.

Completed Conley report (1.1M PDF).

Looks like Dan Cullinane won't be voting for Doug Bennett

For the second time this month, would-be Register of Deeds Doug Bennett has pissed off an elected official, this time state Rep. Dan Cullinane (D-Dorchester).

Cullinane posted photos yesterday that appear to show the perennial candidate tearing down a Cullinane sign and then standing on it as he puts up one of his large hand-made signs on a Gallivan Boulevard resident's fence.

Cullinane said the resident gave Bennett the OK to put up one of his signs - but not at the expense of Cullinane's:

I have made multiple attempts to reach out to Mr. Bennett today to kindly ask that he simply return the sign to where it was removed - not because we don't have more, we do, - not because they are expensive, which they are, - but because it is the just the right thing to do. I gave him the day to respond and to do the right thing and I gladly would have let it go. He chose not to respond.

Too late now. Keep the sign. We've moved on to now work even harder to make sure we win re-election! And of course thanks to my mom and dad for putting the signs back this afternoon!

Earlier this month, Chelsea City Councilor Matt Frank and Bennett exchanged pleasantries over Bennett signs in Chelsea - which Frank said were popping up on signs whose owners hadn't agreed to them. Bennett responded by threatening to run a Hispanic candidate against Frank.

Amtrak says contract dispute with MBTA could threaten rail service to Boston

A dispute over whether Massachusetts should pay Amtrak $29 million for Acela service over tracks the state owns got ugly this week when the national railroad filed a court document suggesting it might have to stop service north of Providence rather than continuing to deal with the "chronically delinquent" MBTA.

Amtrak made the suggestion in a counterclaim it filed over what it said were $175,000 in bills for Northeast Corridor station and track work in Massachusetts that the T was refusing to pay.

Amtrak and the T have long had a cost-sharing arrangement for the Northeast Corridor tracks between Rhode Island and South Station, which are owned by the state: The MBTA would pay for track repairs and maintenance while Amtrak would get to handle train dispatching on the line.

But a commission consisting of Northeast Corridor states and Amtrak last year voted to order Massachusetts to start paying for Amtrak service, as is done in other states - even though the other states don't own their tracks.

In January, the MBTA sued Amtrak in federal court in Boston to block imposition of the $29-million fee.

A judge agreed to delay any action until at least this week to try to let the two sides work out an agreement, but those talks failed.

This week Amtrak filed two responses to the suit: It said federal railroad law requires the T to appeal to a federal railroad board before going to court and asked a judge to dismiss the T suit.

More ominously for Amtrak riders, however, the railroad filed a counterclaim in which it said it might have to stop running trains north of Providence unless the T agrees to make payments

The counterclaim was over a total of $175,000 in bills for projects over several years along the corridor that involved work by Amtrak, which it says the T is now refusing to pay for:

MBTA’s refusal to honor its contractual payment obligations has resulted in financial harm to Amtrak, which could potentially jeopardize Amtrak’s ability to provide rail service in Massachusetts. Amtrak depends on timely payments from MBTA for services rendered to ensure its financial stability, fund its operations, and provide service to rail customers traveling to and from Massachusetts. No business partner should have to wait over five years to receive payment on a valid, authorized, and undisputed invoice that is contractually required to be paid within 30 days. Nor can a service provider be expected to continue to do business with a chronically delinquent business partner who refuses to pay its bills indefinitely, thereby effectively subsidizing the business partner with free service while jeopardizing its own financial health. Having exhausted its numerous efforts to secure payment, Amtrak is now left with no choice but to seek a remedy for MBTA’s breach of the [cost-sharing agreement] in this action.

Council approves letter grades for restaurants, food trucks, but not unanimously

The Boston City Council today approved a proposal by Mayor Walsh to force restaurants and food trucks to post letter grades for their health inspections, 10-1.

City Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) voted against the proposal, saying the city was rushing into the idea too fast.

"Certain neighborhoods and communities could be adversely affected by this if not implemented correctly," Jackson said.

Under the mayor's proposal, the letter grades would be voluntary for a year to let food sellers get used to it. Posting grades within five feet of a restaurant entrance would then become mandatory.

Currently, the city posts the results of health inspections online, without grades. Several other cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have long required food vendors let the public know how they did on prominently posted notices.

City councilors Frank Baker (Dorchester) and Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale) were not present.

City Council rejects proposed medical-marijuana dispensary in Allston

The Boston City Council today rejected a request to OK a medical-marijuana dispensary at 144 Harvard Ave., two months after it approved a competing proposal at 230 Harvard Ave.

Technically, the council voted to reject a request for a "letter of non-objection" to Compassionate Organics's proposal. Without such a letter, state approval of the dispensary is unlikely.

Councilor Mark Ciommo (Allston/Brighton) basically accused Compassionate Organics of committing fraud by initially stating in its application that it had verbal assurances from Boston Police officials and Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins they would not oppose the dispensary when they now say they said no such thing.

Ciommo said Compassionate Organics also failed to ensure the safety of the community, because of nearby organized children's activities, including karate classes across the street.

Ciommo blasted the media for daring to mention that a long-time pal and fundraiser of his does public relations for the 230 Harvard Ave. proposal. He said he has applied the same level of scrutiny to all medical-marijuana proposals for his district.

At a hearing on Monday, Harvard Avenue business owners supported Compassionate Organics, saying that while it had made mistakes at first, it was locally owned and would help improved the Harvard Avenue business district more than a dispensary almost in Brookline.

City Councilors Bill Linehan (South Boston, South End, Chinatown) and Sal LaMattina (North End, East Boston, Charlestown) also rose to speak against the Compassionate Organics proposal.

Ciommo documents on the proposal.

Medical-marijuana dispensary in East Boston gets nod from City Council

The Boston City Council voted unanimously today to write a letter of "non-opposition" for a medical-marijuana dispensary proposed for 220 McClellan Highway in East Boston.

Happy Valley Ventures needs the letter to win state approval for its proposed dispensary.

City Councilor Sal LaMattina (East Boston, Charlestown, North End) praised the application and location. "The location is perfect," he said. "It's a vacant building today. There's plenty of parking." He praised Happy Valley for "a really well thought out security plan."

No councilors spoke against the proposal.

Boston currently has one medical-marijuana dispensary, on Milk Street downtown.

New Hampshire bank-robbery suspect arrested after five-hour stand off in South Boston

Wed, 08/24/2016 - 02:40

Boston Police report arresting a man and seizing a loaded assault rifle early this morning at 9 Orton Marotta Way.

Police say they learned around 9:15 p.m. that Stephen Gingras, 39, of Manchester, NH, wanted for robbing a bank in Salem, NH last week, might be holed up there. Read more.

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