Cops Testify About Tsarnaev Brothers' Shootout

by Ann-Marie Alcántara

On Monday, the Boston Marathon bombing case continued to move forward; three police officers took the stand to tell the jurors about the shootout that ensued with brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The testimonies of the three officers, Sgt. John MacLellan, Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese, and Officer Joseph Reynolds, was in conjunction with a visit to the boat where Dzhokhar was captured and left a note written on the boat’s walls. While the jurors took notes while visiting the boat, there’s no doubt that the details revealed in the police shootout against Tamerlan would stay on their minds.

In the the testimonies, the three officers described exactly what happened in the early morning of April 19, 2013, including a shootout that lasted for eight minutes. It began when Watertown Police Officer Joseph Reynolds spotted a carjacked Mercedes SUV that matched the license plate number of a car he was looking for.

He was driving very slow, very suspicious. We locked eyes.

After that, Tamerlan got out of the car and started firing at Reynolds. The officer took cover behind his Ford Escape and called for backup. Once the other two officers arrived, pipe bombs and another pressure cooker bomb were thrown into the air. Reynolds told the jurors:

I saw a larger type bomb being thrown at us — a cylinder, like a big cooking pot, a big pan.

Four bombs in total were hurled at the officers: Two pipe bombs, one pressure cooker bomb, and a pipe bomb that did not explode. Said MacLellan:

It was incredible ... It was horrendous. A lot of debris — I thought shingles were coming off houses, a lot of smoke, car alarms, people screaming.

The standoff came when Sgt. Pugliese started shooting towards the ground near the brothers' feet, when Tamerlan spotted him and started coming towards him. But as they got close, Tamerlan’s gun had an issue. Pugliese told the courtroom:

He kind of looked at his gun. He looked at me. We looked at each other.

Tamerlan threw the gun towards Sgt. Pugliese and began to leave the scene, but Sgt. Pugliese tackled him. The three officers then attempted to use handcuffs but a struggled ensued. That’s when Dzhokhar revved up the Mercedes SUV and ran over his brother, dragging his body 25 to 30 feet. Pugliese continued telling his story:

I looked down, and I saw the front wheels were over Tamerlan.

Reynolds shot at the car as it was coming towards them, but this didn't stop Dzhokhar from continuing to speed in their direction. Once the car had left the vicinity, the officers helped Dick Donahue, an officer who was hurt during the shootout.

That was the last encounter Dzhokhar had with police officers until he was captured in a boat in Watertown, which jurors visited on Monday. Marked with more than 100 bullet holes, the 18 jurors were allowed to go inside the boat to see the note that Dzhokhar left behind on its walls. Dzhokhar was also present at the boat viewing.

Dzhokhar, now 21, has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts, and could face the death penalty or receive life in prison if found guilty.