By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) - Law enforcement officers initially backed away from a suspect in a terrorism investigation who they said threatened them with a knife before fatally shooting him, according to a surveillance video of the incident released on Monday.
Usaamah Abdullah Rahim had been under 24-hour watch by the Joint Terrorism Task Force for an extended period when FBI agents and a Boston police officer approached him on Tuesday in a parking lot to question him after wire-tapped phone calls revealed that he planned to attack police.
According to court papers filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rahim, a 26-year-old security guard, threatened officers with a large knife and was shot and killed after repeatedly ignoring orders to drop the weapon.
The video shows a group of about five officers approaching a person prosecutors identified as Rahim and twice dropping back from him before two people, one identified as an FBI agent and one as a Boston police officer, opened fire on him. Faces could not be clearly seen in the video, which depicts an incident that played out in seconds.
"This video ... is simply one piece of evidence among many and this investigation is very active," said Suffolk Country District Attorney Daniel Conley, whose office is reviewing whether the Boston police and FBI agents involved in the incident broke any laws in shooting Rahim. "This is an exacting process and it requires a careful evaluation of all the evidence."
Federal investigators contend that Rahim had discussed his plans to behead officers with two people, including his nephew, David Wright. Wright was arrested the day of Rahim's shooting and charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice for allegedly telling Rahim to destroy his laptop and cell phone to prevent them from being used as evidence against him.
The third person has not yet been identified.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans defended the officers' actions.
"It really came about real quick," Evans said. "I think he was intent ... on getting a 'boy in blue' ... there were multiple, multiple requests for him to put down that weapon."
(Reporting by Scott Malone)