Boston, MA – A federal judge has cleared the way for the mother of a terrorist who was killed by police in 2015 to proceed with a civil suit against the law enforcement officers who shot him.
Usaamah Rahim was fatally shot by members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) on June 2, 2015 after he lunged at them with a knife, WBTS reported.
JTTF members had been watching Rahim in connection with a plot to behead conservative blogger Pamela Geller, WBTS reported.
Prosecutors said Rahim had been influenced by ISIS and allegedly plotted with two other men to behead Geller after she organized a contest featuring cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
They eventually discarded that plan and began plotting to attack police officers, WBTS reported.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that JTTF members confronted Rahim after they watched him buying knives and heard him talking about an imminent attack on “boys in blue.”
When they confronted him, Rahim charged them with a knife and was fatally shot, WBTS reported.
“There is no question that members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force had probable cause to arrest Mr. Rahim,” then-Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said. “Knowing what they know and knowing what they now know about his plans for that day, they had the duty to stop him before he could act.”
An investigation by the district attorney’s office determined that the FBI agent and Boston police officer who shot Rahim were justified, so Conley announced he would not be seeking any charges against them in August of 2016, WBTS reported.
Rahim’s family held a press conference after the district attorney’s announcement and claimed Rahim had been the “subject of an illegal arrest” and that the JTTF members should have done more to de-escalate the situation.
His mother, Rahimah Rahim, filed a civil lawsuit against the federal government, the FBI, and the officers who shot him that alleged they had violated his protection from unreasonable search and seizure, WBTS reported.
Attorneys for the federal government sought to have the lawsuit against the officers dismissed because they are protected under “qualified immunity” that protects them from liability if their actions don’t violate the law.
But U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani rejected the government’s argument that qualified immunity applied in the case, WBTS reported.
The judge said in her ruling that it was also important to consider “less hurried decisions made leading up to that moment,” WTBS reported.
Talwani said Rahim’s mother hadn’t gotten to interview the officers or investigate whether the shooting was reasonable.
“It gave me hope that if she’s looking at it that closely and giving us a chance to see some of the things or question some of the things and find those missing pieces and bring them to light, that there’s a chance for us to get justice for Usaamah,” Rahimah Rahim said as she celebrated her court win, WBTS reported.
She has become an activist for police reform in the years since her son’s death.
“I want justice, I want to see that done, that they are prosecuted. I want to see that all of these cases are reopened and looked at correctly. And I want to see that there’s reform and the police department– no more qualified immunity. If you do something wrong, you’re responsible for what you did, you’re not backed up,” Rahimah Rahim told WBTS at a protest in front of the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.