Tsarnaev Trial Witnesses: Day 7

51.  Officer  Joseph Reynolds
Watertown police officer since 2005.  On the evening of April 18, 2013, he reported for work at 11:45pm.  He saw the FBI news conference earlier in the day and the Boston bombing suspects’ pictures.  Watertown officers were told that evening to be extra vigilant in their duties that night.  He worked his usual route which was Route #5 on the eastern border of Watertown and Cambridge. He was the first police officer to find Dun Meng’s carjacked Mercedes SUV in Watertown. 

52.  Sgt. John MacLellan
Watertown Police Sergeant.

53.  Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese
Sgt. Pugliese is an army vet who has been a sergeant with the Watertown Police Department since 1993.  He is also a firearms instructor.  At 10 pm on the evening of April 18, 2013, he heard about the MIT shooting over police radio at the Watertown Police DepartmentHe was writing a report at the time.

78.  Officer Miguel Colon
Officer Colon is a native of Puerto Rico.  He attended UMass and then joined the Watertown Police Department in 2006.  He was on night patrol the evening of April 19, 2013 and he arrived at the Watertown shootout at 12:45 am.

I‘m putting the testimony of all four Watertown officers into one narrative even though Officer Colon testified days later than the other three.  Outside of some discrepancies, much of what they testified to is the same.

At 12:28 am, the Watertown Police Department received a Cambridge police radio dispatch alerting them to the Meng carjacking.  Officer Reynolds, in an effort to spot Meng’s Mercedes SUV, headed to Mt. Auburn.  When radio dispatch called out a BOLO for the SUV and pinged it’s location at 68 Dexter Avenue at approximately12:42 am (according to Watertown police radio), Reynolds realized he was only a 100 yards away from the vehicle.  He sped northbound up Dexter Ave.(wasn’t he on Mt. Auburn?) and encountered the black Mercedes SUV traveling southbound at about 5 – 10mph behind a green Honda Civic. Sorry to digress so quickly into this narrative but let’s take a look at exactly how far 100 yards is (for those of you that need a conversion chart like me go → HERE):

100 yards

100 yards is the distance approximately from Kitzenberg’s house at 62 Laurel to Dexter Ave.  Or, think of it this way:  the distance is the same as a football field from the start of one end zone to the start of the other end zone (not to the ends of the field).

football field

So why was Reynolds speeding northbound on Dexter Ave. to find these guys?  Unless both Tsarnaev brothers had the vehicle lights turned off (which no one testified to), Reynolds would have seen them right in front of him.  He may not have recognized the Mercedes as being the Mercedes, but still – both vehicles were literally right in front of him.  He was moments away from them.  Not a lot of speeding to be done.  Okay, okay.  Not a big deal.  As he passed the vehicles, Reynolds locked eyes with Tamerlan (and checked out the plates?) who was driving the Mercedes, and called into dispatch that he had a visual on the carjacked vehicle.  Driving a SUV Ford Escape, Officer Reynolds did a three point turn and followed the Mercedes. His sergeant, John MacLellan, warned him to wait for backup before stopping the vehicles.  Officer Reynolds complied and watched as the vehicles made a left onto Laurel St.  He followed and both of the vehicles (the Mercedes SUV and the green Honda Civic) stopped in the middle of the road.

As soon as the Mercedes came to a stop, Reynolds testified that Tamerlan leaped out of the vehicle and began shooting at him from a distance of about 5-10 yards away.  Reynolds ducked down behind his dashboard, jacked his cruiser in reverse about 30 yards and called out on police radio, “Shots fired!  Shots fired!”

It was then that, according to @carlwbz, “Reynolds was still alone, got out of his cruiser, and exchanged gunfire with Tamerlan #Tsarnaev, using his cruiser door as cover.”  Indeed, @GlobeCullen tweeted that Tamerlan and Reynolds both “used driver’s door as cover.”  Reynolds didn’t remember how many rounds were fired (except to say it was “nonstop”) before Sgt. MacLellan arrived on scene in his Ford Expedition.  MacLellan pulled up to the left of Reynolds, took a bullet to his windshield, failed to get his rifle out of his cruiser and then, in an effort to distract Tamerlan and Jahar and give the cops more cover, he let his cruiser roll down the street.  MacLellan ran to a nearby yard for cover while Reynolds briefly stayed behind the rolling cruiser.  Reynolds eventually made it over to the side yard with his sergeant where they both took cover behind a tree.  A small tree.  A very, very small tree.  The gunfight continued.

(I’m not even going to get into the ridiculousness of MacLellan’s testimony:  he saw the Mercedes turn down Laurel, he didn’t see it turn down Laurel, when he arrived Reynolds was out of his cruiser, when he arrived Reynolds was reversing his car, blah, blah, ad nauseam, blah.  Go → HERE for more details.)

Alright, briefly let’s map this puppy.  Reynolds car was reversed almost to the corner of Dexter and Laurel.  That’s a little less than 100 yards from where the Mercedes and Honda were located.  How do we know that’s where he was?  Here’s a picture of Reynolds’ police SUV:

reynolds cruiser daytime

See the street sign?  He’s right at the corner.  That’s about 85 yards from Tamerlan and Jahar (remember, 100 yards is from Kitzenberg’s house to the intersection at Dexter Ave.).  So, Officer Reynolds pulled approximately 45 yards onto Laurel when he turned behind the Mercedes and then threw his cruiser into reverse 30 yards back to the corner of Laurel and Dexter when Tamerlan started shooting at him.  Notice Reynolds testified that Tamerlan was shooting at him from a distance of 5-10 yards away.  That would mean Tamerlan, his brother, and their two vehicles were approximately 50-55 yards down Laurel Street.  Impossible.  Pictures from Kitzenberg himself show that the Mercedes and Honda Civic were in front of his house – approximately 100 yards from Dexter, or 55 yards from Reynolds when he first pulled down the street.  So if we take the actual location of the Mercedes and mix it in with Officer Reynolds’ account, that means Tamerlan jumped out of the Mercedes and ran 55 yards towards Reynolds shooting all the way.  When Tamerlan got within 5-10 yards of Reynolds, Reynolds threw his cruiser into reverse.  And then, apparently, Tamerlan ran another 55 yards back to the Mercedes SUV to take cover.

Okay.

Let’s move on to Officer Colon’s story.  There actually isn’t one.  Not under oath that is.  Colon was up on the witness stand for a hot second and shared practically nothing about the gunfight.  But I do have an interview he and other officers MacLellan, Pugliese, and Reynolds did with MSNBC.  Watch Colon’s excruciatingly awkward take on what happened that night →  HERE.  If anyone can get his story to fit with what MacLellan or Reynolds said, let me know.  Perhaps I haven’t had enough coffee.  Otherwise, I’m not really questioning why the prosecutor had him shuffled out of the courtroom faster than an American-supplied Israeli rocket on Palestinian children (Yeah, I just went there.  You know it’s true our country has been responsible for more innocent victim amputations than 100 Boston bombings combined).

Political rants aside…there are a few prized moments in Colon’s testimony.  We’ll get to that.

Reynolds
Reynolds

As bullets continued to fly, Reynolds continued to shoot at the two men behind the Mercedes SUV on Laurel and saw muzzle flashes coming from their direction.  He also noticed a lighter being lit and what looked like a burning wick.  Colon noticed this also although I have no idea where he was located at this point.  MacLellan testified he saw two muzzle flashes and two handguns.  But on the stand, MacLellan quickly added that the second muzzle flash may have been the lighter used to light the fuses of bombs.  Especially before testimony, they don’t talk about hindsight for nothing, am I right?  A pipe bomb was thrown at Reynolds and MacLellan which landed in the street and exploded.  Reynolds didn’t know specifically who was shooting and throwing the bombs at them but he did recall how many pipe bombs were thrown: four, two of which exploded. MacLellan testified that they experienced continuous gunfire while the bombs were being thrown – indicating that both suspects (Tamerlan and Jahar) were involved.

After the suspects ran out of pipe bombs, they heaved a large, pressure cooker bomb at the officers.  Reynolds saw it coming and yelled to MacLellan, “Run!”  The blast shook him to his knees.  He testified, “My ears were ringing.”  As debris rained down upon them, Reynolds said he “hopped a fence, ran around Dexter to where my cruiser was” and kept shooting (@GlobeCullen).  The gunfight lasted a good eight to ten minutes during which time he reloaded two spare magazines for his .40 Glock.   Based on the pauses in gunfire, Reynolds believed the suspects had reloaded as well.  By the end of it all, Reynolds had spent all of his bullets.  But going back to the Watertown police radio and the duration of this gunfight, it didn’t last eight to ten minutes.  At almost 12:44 am, you hear “shots fired.”  By 12:48 am, you hear someone call out “suspect took off in the SUV” and “he just ran over his partner.”  Folks, that’s a four minute gun battle.  Max.  I don’t care how many times they say it was an eight, nine or even ten minute gun battle in print, in interviews or even in court under oath.  It’s a lie.  Period.

An interesting moment in Officer Colon’s testimony worth mentioning is in regards to the police radio and battle times.  Colon testified that he responded to the Laurel gunfight at 12:45 am.  He said he originally contemplated going down Quimby to get to Laurel but he heard Sergeant MacLellan call out on police radio not to go to Quimby/Laurel in order to reduce the risk of cross-fire.  Makes sense, right?  Thus, according to Colon, officers did not block the far end of Laurel and Quimby.  Okay dokey.  So Colon went a different route to arrive at Laurel Street.  When he got on scene he parked his car to the left of Reynold’s cruiser, about two car lengths ahead.  So now let’s go back to the radio transmission by MacLellan telling officers not to go to Quimby.  Colon testified he was on his way to the gunfight when he heard this over the radio.  According to Watertown’s police radio that night, MacLellan sent out the cross-fire warning (that the prosecutors played in court for the jury) at 12:47 am. Folks, again, that gunfight was over by 12:48 am and apparently one minute after Colon arrived on scene.  And Colon said he was the third guy to arrive on scene, even before Pugliese (in the interview)?  And he arrived on scene at 12:45 am (in his testimony)?  Absolutely impossible.

Need to watch him fumble through an interview again? → HERE

And by the way, Reynolds, MacLellan and Pugliese never mentioned Colon by name in their testimony but mentioned each other numerous times.

So what is Pugliese’s story?  According to his own testimony, he was working on a report around 10 o’clock that

Pugliese
Pugliese

evening and around 11:30 pm he finished the report and went out to move his gear from his cruiser to his personal vehicle (he was at the end of his shift).  While sitting in his personal vehicle, he heard about the carjacking in Cambridge and that Meng’s vehicle had been pinged in Watertown.  Do all of these cops have police scanners in their cars?  This isn’t New York City, for f*ck’s sake.  Even the prosecution called Watertown a “sleepy town” in their opening statement.  To make matters more confusing, @wburLive tweeted that Pugliese was about a mile and a half from Dexter Ave. when he heard the Mercedes had been pinged to Dexter.  @phillipWGBH tweeted Pugliese “was sitting in his car and heard SUV had been carjacked & pinged to Watertown.”  And @CParrottaFox25 tweeted, “Pugliese heard car had pinged on Dexter Ave.  He was still at PD when he heard Reynolds say he located it.  Headed that way.”  Was Pugliese at the station or a mile away from Dexter when he heard the Mercedes had been pinged to Dexter?  No idea.

From the Watertown Police Department (or not), Pugliese headed over to the area of Laurel and Dexter at a cool 70 mph.  When he arrived, Reynolds testified that he and MacLellan were still exchanging gunfire with the suspects.  Pugliese agreed, testifying that he heard gunshots and explosions when he arrived.  He parked his Chrysler minivan on Dexter (right in front of where Officer Donohue was shot—144 Dexter Ave.) and put his bullet-proof vest back on.  Back on?  He already testified he was still in uniform.  Whatever, right?  But that may explain how he heard what was happening on police radio – perhaps he still had his shoulder radio on? He walked to the corner of Laurel and noticed MacLellan taking cover behind a tree and yelling at the suspects to “Give it up!  Give it up!” (this was at approximately 12:45:45 pm according to police radio).  Uh huh.  The crime lab called.  They recommend a voice analysis.

In the meantime, @Bward3 tweeted that Pugliese testified, “We used vehicles for cover, as we were getting shot at.”  Not sure who he means by “we” and which vehicles he’s referring to but according to @GlobeCullen, Pugliese saw, “…a couple of vehicles.  One of them a police cruiser.  Another a black SUV.  Another vehicle.”  This begs the question then of where Colon’s cruiser was located since all of the Watertown officers that testified stated in the MSNBC interview that Colon was the third cop to arrive on scene.  And Colon himself testified that he arrived on scene at 12:45 am and parked his car between MacLellan’s and Reynolds’.  So where was his cruiser?  Simple.  Not there.  Yet.

On with the narrative…

Pugliese, after testifying that he, too, saw two muzzle flashes, said he ran behind back yards in order to flank  Tamerlan and Jahar.  As he ran through the yards he called out on the radio that he saw a resident in a white t-shirt fleeing a yard but then quickly dismissed him as a threat and continued on his sneak attack.  That call went out a little before 12:46 am.  It was then, he testified, that a huge explosion rocked the neighborhood, causing debris to hit him in the face.  He was shaken for a moment but forged ahead.  When he saw Tamerlan and Jahar behind the Mercedes, Pugliese took aim and fired off 3-4 skip shots.  At that point, Tamerlan spotted Pugliese and their own personal showdown began.  By the way, it appears from Pugliese’s testimony that he was not directly across from the Tsarnaev brothers.  I only say that because he testified he took the skip shots because he could only see their feet behind the Mercedes.  He also testified that Tamerlan “came charging up the street firing at me” (@MicheleMcPhee, @AlyshaNECN, @GlobeCullen).

As Pugilese engaged Tamerlan in a gun battle, Tamerlan ran up the driveway where Pugliese was located. Meanwhile, Reynolds “got down on one knee,” and also tried to shoot Tamerlan. (@JimArmstrongWBZ).  What was Jahar doing during this time?  I know it’s getting old but…no idea.  Why?  Because the authorities have never told us.  Ever.  And God forbid the defense asks.  So, Reynolds shot at Tamerlan while Pugilese also shot at Tamerlan, who may or may not have been hit because, apparently, Reynolds and Pugilese have no idea what kind of shot they are.

“Well, how close was Pugliese to Tamerlan when he was shooting at him,” you ask?

Oh, about six feet.

“Hmm.  Okay.  But how many rounds did he fire?”

Oh, 5-6.  And then he somehow found the time to reload without getting shot.

“Huh.  And Pugliese is a firearms instructor?” you wonder out loud.

Uh huh, he sure is.

::facepalm::

MacLellan
MacLellan

Tamerlan was shot nine times so this whole thing begs the question of why everyone in a Watertown uniform refuses to take credit for taking out one of the two biggest terrorists to attack the the city of Boston?  Pugliese went so far as to say under oath, “Tamerlan was wounded at the time [he was tackled], not sure from what.”  Wow. Is this grown man who’s under oath and wears a uniform everyday to work serious?

Before we turn our attention back to Officer Reynolds, I’d like to go over the Watertown Police radio around the moments Pugliese called out about a man in a white t-shirt.  Remember, Pugliese testified that a large explosion occurred shortly after this.  Since he was there from almost the beginning, I think we can safely assume he was talking about the pressure cooker bomb.  We start at 12:43:50 am when the first “shots fired” went out and then skip ahead to a few seconds before Pugliese’s t-shirt call:

12:43:50:  Reynolds’ first call for “Shots fired, shots fired!”
********************
12:45:45 am:  “Give it up, give it up!”  (“We give up, we give up!”)
12:45:50 am:  Pugliese’s white t-shirt call.
12:46:00 am:  Pugliese radios he doesn’t know if the guy is a suspect or not.
12:46:06 – 12:46:15 am:  Someone calling out, “He’s this way, he’s running this way…”
12:45:16 – 12:46:20 am:  [Unclear]
12:45:22 – 12:46:25 am:  Dispatch asks them to repeat one more time.
12:46:28 – 12:46:33 am:  Officer repeats they still have one suspect behind the vehicle. Also mentions there are two vehicles there.
12:46:34 am:  Dispatch repeats that there are two vehicles at the scene with one suspect behind the vehicle.
12:46:40 – 12:46:54 am:  Officer calls out that they still have shots being fired, shots still being fired.
12:46:55 am:  Dispatch repeats shots still being fired and that the suspect is running towards the projects on Dexter Avenue.
12:47:02 – 12:47:16 am:  Sergeant MacLellan calls out they still have one suspect pinned down behind the SUV.  Also calls out for officers to go to Laurel and Quimby.  Then scratches that to prevent cross-fire.  Mentions again they have on suspect pinned down.  I believe he then states, “Before, they were throwing explosives.”  No quotes.  The recording sucks.
12:47:19 am:  [unclear]
12:47:23 am:  Someone calls out, “Hey Sarge, you have one in custody?”
12:47:26 am:  “He’s coming towards us, he’s coming towards us!”
12:47:41 am:  [unclear]…ambulance…[unclear]
12:47:59 – 12:48:04:   “Suspect just took ogg in the SUV, he ran over his partner.”

So when exactly did this pressure cooker bomb go off after Pugliese’s white t-shirt call?  Does anyone else remember the early reports that Jahar threw the pressure cooker bomb to create a smokescreen so he could get back in the Mercedes and tear out of there?  The only time I sense a bomb might have gone off, based on this recording, is right at the end.  Other than that, it doesn’t appear the neighborhood quaked beneath a blast in the last two minutes of that gunfight.  On a side note, the defense cross-examined MacLellan about when he first heard “Officer down” in reference to Officer Donohue.  MacLellan first answered it was after Jahar took off in the Mercedes.  But then he admitted he didn’t know for sure when he first heard it.  What I’m driving at is that the radio call above at 12:47:41 am regarding the ambulance may have been for Donohue, not Tamerlan.

Going back to Reynolds, we left him on bended knee shooting at Tamerlan during the Pugliese/Tamerlan showdown.  Once Tamerlan noticed Reynolds, he turned and left Pugliese.  He ran towards Reynolds from a 30 yard distance and made it within 10 yards of him.  No worries.  Pugliese tackled him from behind.  After Tamerlan was shot eight times by no one that will admit to it, Reynolds testified that he and Pugilese struggled to get him handcuffed.  It was during this scuffle that Reynolds heard the roar of the Mercedes’ engine bearing down on them and yelled for Pugliese to get off Tamerlan before he was hit.  The Mercedes came at them full speed (MacLellan testified the vehicle was traveling 30-40 mph.) and both Reynolds and Pugliese jumped out the way.  Let’s not forget ol’ MacLellan—he was also helping to get the seriously injured Tamerlan handcuffed.  He also jumped out of the way just in time.  Pugliese testified that he tried to save Tamerlan’s life by dragging him out of the way but he had to let go of him to save his own life.

As Jahar fled in the Mercedes, Reynolds pulled his gun out and shot at the vehicle.  He believed he hit the windshield but he’s unsure if he hit Jahar.  However, @GlobeCullen tweeted, “Jahar got loose and kept going down Laurel.  ‘That’s the last I [Reynolds] saw of him.’ Did not shoot at fleeing car, but others did.”  So did Reynolds shoot at the Mercedes or not?  As Jahar fled, he ran over his brother who got caught in the rear wheel well.  Some of the tweets that went out during Reynolds’ testimony:

@carlwbz:  “When Jahar was driving from the scene, he smashed into Reynolds’ cruiser.  ‘He got hung up on my vehicle.'”
@GlobeCullen:  “He got hung up on my vehicle.  Joe tried to shoot him.  Tamerlan’s body had spilled out 15 yards back.”
@AlyshaNECN:  “Reynolds says the SUV caught Tamerlan in the wheel well and dragged him about 50 yards.”
@JimArmstrongWBZ:  “Tamerlan eventually gets ‘dislodged’ from SUV, officers shoot at SUV as it tried to escape, even hitting a Watertown police car.”

So what happened to Tamerlan?  According to one of the greatest tales ever told by the Watertown police, Tamerlan, after being shot nine times, dragged under an SUV anywhere from 20 to 50 feet and clearly after knoshing on a theater-sized tub of bath salts (kidding, kidding), resisted arrest.  Pugliese even had to put his foot on Tamerlan’s back to make the arrest happen.  Seriously?  I mean…seriously??

Yup, true story.  As the police saw it.  And testified to it.  Under oath.

So what happened with Jahar?  Let’s start with the prosecution’s questions directed towards MacClellan, Pugliese and Colon during their testimony:
Directed to MacLellan (via @GlobeCullen)
Q:  Could Jahar have avoided you just by driving to the right?
A:  Yes.
Q:  Ample room to get by?
A:  Yes.

Directed to Pugliese (via @JimArmstrongWBZ)
Q:  Was there anything in the way of the Mercedes?
A:  No, he could have just as easily gone around us.

Directed to Colon (via @GlobeCullen)
Q:  Room for SUV to go between people and ground and your cruiser?
A:  There was room for a vehicle to go by.

Here’s the problem with Jahar having “ample room.”

Watertown Officer Miguel Colon’s police cruiser.  Where was it?  He said he initially parked it between Reynolds’ and MacLellan’s cruisers.  Then, under oath, he specified that he was two car lengths up from Reynolds.  That would have put the vehicle somewhere in the middle of the street or over to the right side.  Since the prosecution feels that Kitzenberg is a solid witness, then what’s good for the goose…

Here’s a photo Kitzenberg took after MacLellan rolled his cruiser down the street (the circles are my doing).  The Mercedes SUV is headed towards the other two vehicles.  The vehicle on the left facing the camera is Reynolds’ cruiser.  The vehicle on the right facing the camera, I assume, is Colon’s.  Tamerlan and the police are seen in front of Reynolds’ cruiser and almost parallel to Colon’s cruiser, towards the left hand side of the street:

Colon car on Laurel

laurel colon car

Do I really need to do any more explaining on the subject of “ample room?”

One more thing I’ll highlight from the Watertown testimony is this:

Colon testified that he followed Jahar in the Mercedes less than one minute after he fled Laurel Street.  Did anyone question why Colon didn’t catch him?  Of course not.  That would be like questioning why St. Onge let Jahar go, as well.  It appears that the prosecution, the defense and most Bostonians take no issue with the fact their city was completely shut down and overrun with military tanks rolling down residential streets for what may be, no good reason at all.  Let the heroes be heroes, the people scream.  Well, lest we forget so soon, not one officer or military or government personnel caught Jahar.  Not. One.  It was a guy with a boat.  Has everyone become so blind to this stuff?

Testimony about Officer Donohue and the remaining witnesses from Day 7 coming up next.

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