BOSTON, Ma. – Lawyers representing Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dozhokhar Tsarnaev filed a civil suit against the Watertown Police Department during a hearing at the Boston Municipal Court this morning. Citing Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, the suit alleges Waterford police used excessive force leading up to and during the apprehension of Tsarnaev. The 21-year-old is facing thirty charges for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to bomb a place of public use resulting in death.
Lionel Hutz, the lead attorney handling Tsarnaev’s case, spoke to reporters on the courthouse steps, saying,”The Watertown police, and other law enforcement agencies, violated my client’s civil rights countless times on the night of April 19th, 2013. Regardless of the charges levied against my client, he is an American citizen, and therefore innocent until proven guilty.” Mr. Hutz said he intends to use police testimony from the federal trial against Tsarnaev to show what he calls “an excessive and brutal use of force as a result of a heavily militarized law enforcement operation.”
Ted Buckland, a member of Tsarnaev’s defense team, told this reporter that “in the moments leading up to his arrest, while Dozhokhar, who was unarmed, sought refuge inside the boat, officers from Watertown and other agencies unleashed a barrage of preemptive gunfire into the craft prior to deploying dozens of concussion grenades.” Buckland says the defense team is seeking $150 million in punitive damages from the Watertown Police Department, part of which will be used to pay for Tsarnaev’s defense in federal court.
Tsarnaev’s defense team believes they have a “rock solid case” against Waterford PD. “In the last decade we’ve seen an unprecedented rise in the use of excessive force against American citizens, particularly minorities. This case is no different from Ferguson where we had Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, gunned down by an overzealous police officer, and the subsequent response to that was to deploy, basically, a militarized force into the city resulting in innumerable civil rights violations. It’s simply unacceptable,” Hutz says.
Dozhokhar Tsarnaev is being charged for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing which killed 3 spectators and injured an estimated 264 people. In addition he faces charges for the murder of Sean A. Collier, an MIT police officer. Federal prosecutors announced last week that, following a conviction, they will seek the death penalty.