Who killed Tamerlan Tsarnaev

April 22, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

I write today regarding whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed while in police custody, naked, and handcuffed with his hands behind his back. I was not aware of this dispute until I got up this morning and reviewed last night’s comments to yesterday’s post about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As all of you probably know, police have identified the two brothers as the Boston Marathon bombers.

Tamerlan (26), now deceased, is the older brother; Dzhokhar (19) is the younger brother. Police arrested him Friday night. They are holding him in a hospital where he is being treated for a gunshot wound to the throat.

Apparently, police have started interrogating him without advising him of his Miranda rights to remain silent and to be represented by counsel, even though he is intubated, medicated and listed in serious condition. This is not a surprise since the Department of Justice announced over the weekend that the interrogation would commence without Miranda warnings pursuant to the public-safety exception to the Miranda rule. I have already explained why I believe that is a bad idea and will not revisit that issue in this post.

Now to the controversy.

Tamerlan was reportedly shot by police during a shootout in which Dzhokhar escaped in a vehicle after running over Tamerlan and dragging him 30 or 40 feet.

Dzhokhar was reportedly driving a vehicle that he and Tamerlan had carjacked.

There is a CNN video that shows a naked male with his hands cuffed behind his back being escorted to and seated in the back seat of a patrol vehicle. That man does not appear to have any injuries and he looks like Tamerlan.

The video was presented here together with a gruesome still photo of a corpse riddled with bullet holes and slashes to the torso. That photograph also looks like Tamerlan.

When viewed together I believe a viewer might reasonably conclude that Tamerlan is displayed in the video and still photograph. If that is true, then it would appear that the police may have murdered Tamerlan.

However, later reports this weekend indicate that the naked man being placed in the back seat of the patrol vehicle was the driver of the vehicle that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar carjacked. If that turns out to be true, then the story was false and should be disregarded.

I lack sufficient information to answer the question I posed in the title, but it’s certainly looking like the viral story is false.

However this turns out, I think it’s important for us to realize how easy it is to fool people with photos and videos. We should already have learned that lesson with the two cell phone photos of the defendant’s face and the back of his head that show injuries not readily apparent in photos taken at the station house a few hours later in decent lighting by a professional photographer with good equipment.

I will end this post with a request. Please do not embed gruesome images in comments. Instead, bracket the link and provide a warning so that viewers will have the opportunity to decide if they want to view the image, which they can do by copying the link and pasting it into their browser.

Carry on.


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H/T to Ay2Z for embedding this video in the comments:

This video is safe to watch.

EDIT: Looks like the gruesome death photo is being systematically removed from the internet.

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