Purported Video of "Evacuation" During Boston Bombing Search

This is a tape of what is said to be a neighbor taping the evacuation of a private home in Watertown during the search for the Boston Bomber #2. Boston Evacuation.

Now, we were led to believe that this was all pretty much voluntary and in good spirit by the citizens of the town. But what this tape shows is different from that - it’s long, but basically 5+ fully armed SWAT members bang on the door, point giant guns at the residents, enter the home, and march them out one at a time, with hands on head, then send them down the street to be frisked some more. I find this very disturbing.

It is not entirely clear how much information the cops had to pinpoint where #2 was, and how many houses they “evacuated” during Friday afternoon. But the idea that a private citizen, with no specific information other then “the bad guy might be around here somewhere”, can be held at gunpoint, have their home invaded and then be forcibly removed is troubling.

What are the Constitutional grounds for this? And are you okay with this? This seems way, way, WAY out of line to me, particularly when they’re hunting a 19 year old, who is not only completely identified (thereby giving them them hours to look at his background and search intelligence for clues as to whether he’s part of a bigger plot) (no), but pretty badly injured.

Constitutional grounds would be the “exigent circumstances” exception to the warrant requirement, which is iffy. In a more general sense, the common law is understood to grant certain emergency powers to the government in a time of crisis, which is why municipalities can impose curfews during a hurricane (by way of example). The limits and triggering conditions for such powers are a bit murky.

Yeah that is pretty disturbing and quite an infringement on the homeowner’s rights. On the other hand, it is extreme circumstances, with multiple shootouts, grenades, another pressure cooker bomb and a rundown by SUV.

It should be noted that I’m not sure if the police/FBI knew how badly injured he was, or if there were more people involved. What would the public outcry be if Bomber #2 was holed up in one of these houses either holding people hostage, or if he was hiding in someone’s basement without their knowledge and he either slipped through the cracks or harmed more people.

I do also want to mention that on the other side of this, I have seen pictures of police bringing milk in to a house with babies that were in the lockdown area.

That’s not an act of kindness, and I wouldn’t say that it’s the “other side” of pointing loaded guns at an innocent family.

I would be interested to know if this was “house to house” or if this was (at least believed to be) a location with specific connection to the suspects. It doesn’t look like a family - they appear to all be about the same age - college age - as the suspect.

While still troubling, it’s a bit different than suggesting that they were going around pulling families out of houses in a house to house fashion.

I’m curious about what the OP should have been done by the police in this situation, especially if they had a reasonable and specific suspicion that they might find the guy at this house.

I’d like to know more about the background circumstances here. I’m a little skeptical that the police drew their weapons and ordered everybody to put their hands up this way.

Were we? My understanding was that the shelter in place order was voluntary but I don’t remember hearing that about the house to house searches in Watertown. It stands to reason that they were not.

He was identified by name and by photo, and I’m not sure it was clear that he was badly injured. He was able to get away from the firefight, and I know the police found his blood in a backyard at one point - but we don’t know if that was before or after this.


The real issue is what the remedy might be. Let’s say, for instance, the cops were doing this at every house to look for Bomber Suspect #2. Since BS2 is a college student, most of the houses/apartments belong to college kids. They go into a house, and while BS2 is not present, the cops stumble across a large meth lab. Or maybe, they just smelled what they believed to be a meth lab, and started poking around in places that the BS2 could not be. Could these homeowners/renters be prosecuted?

I’m blanking on the case name from law school… but basically guy is sitting in his living room, quietly weighing and bagging some weed into neat baggies for sale… when all of the sudden, some random ass stranger comes tearing ass through his living room and out the back door. Strange. He is followed 30 seconds later by a pursuing police officer. The police officer screeches to a halt upon seeing the obvious signs of narcotics distribution, presumably because the perp he was chasing was small potatoes compared to the perp he inadvertantly just caught. The conviction for PWID MJ was upheld.

My understanding is that throughout the day, the police in Watertown were responding to multiple false alarms, but there was no way for them to know those were false alarms until after investigating. Every tip or suspicion had to be treated as the real thing. I don’t know what the deal was for that particular family, but if something was amiss then the police needed to treat it as a real threat.
When we woke up Friday morning we settled into watching the news (local news, none of that CNN crap), the police and reporters were all aflutter about one particular house*. Turned out to be nothing. We got word from a friend who had been watching TV all night, that that was pretty much the story of the entire evening – over and over again.

On top of that, they couldn’t know what the threat might be. Hostages? Co-conspirators? No one knew.

*As a side note, I was amused by the fact that the reporters were falling over themselves telling us that they won’t show the house or tell us the location to make sure they don’t give information to the suspect. Of course, they had already told us their location and showed us the house on TV. Keep repeating that you are keeping a secret and that will retroactively make it true!

Well, if someone can demonstrate that they had a reasonable suspicion that he was at this house specifically, then I’m sure I would agree that those actions would be fine. But since no one knows if they did, we can’t move forward on that assumption.

And “house full of college guys who are around the same age as the Bomber” is not specific information.

I would love to find out more information on this tape, but I can’t seem to find anything right now. Have there been any specific information from Boston/Feds about the search? So far, I’ve only heard about the “voluntary evacuation” type stories, not even any information on what parts of Watertown and Cambridge they were looking at.

What would you call it then?

If my house burns down, and somebody brings me milk for my kid, that’s an act of kindness.

If somebody tells me I can’t go get milk for my kid, then brings me milk for my kid, that’s…I don’t even know what to call it. The only right thing to do, maybe?

Right. Nor should we move forward assuming the opposite.

That would be the hot pursuit exception rather than the exigent circumstances one.

The video froze up with about 30 seconds left, so maybe I missed something. What I did see was the police knocking on the door, which was voluntarily opened, and no sign that consent to search wasn’t given. Then I saw the police use reasonable procedures to remove people from the house ensuring everyone’s safety. Did I miss some part at the end where the cops start beating the residents or something? What is at question here?

Giant guns!!!

Some people hear jackboots whenever they see police officers.

No, not at all.

But if I were in Watertown and all this was going on, I wouldn’t have any problem packing up a bag with things I and my family might need, like food, drinks, clothes, diapers, etc., getting into my car and driving to the next town, or simply walking to the end of the street with everyone else, and proceeding to the local town park or school gym or whatever they’ve set aside for private citizens that have to evacuate.

But, for it to be done like this is scary. What do I tell my 7 year old - “Don’t worry about those automatic rifles pointed at you while you walk outside alone! I’ll be right behind you (probably) with my hands on my head, with no opportunity to help you or calm you while we walk down the street, with guns drawn and tracking us.” And also “Don’t worry son! Our Constitution provides us with rights that say we cannot be treated like total criminals and have multiple guns drawn and pointed at our heads because we’re ordinary citizens trying to comply with a police order! I hope I don’t trip down the stairs and flail my arms toward my torso and some scared and serious cop overreacts and puts a bullet in my head!”

There’s a disconnect here - I get that this was a Big Deal, and there was some concern for future danger/bombing/hostages, etc. But this is an unacceptable way for innocent people to be treated, IMO. I have SWAT/cops in my family, and I understand the gravity of what was going on. But this seems like a huge overreaction if there was no indication that the guy was in this house, or on this street. Did they do this all over town?

You are wrong, and you are the problem. This homeowner and the residents knew exactly what was going on and cooperated with the police in a necessary effort to capture a dangerous criminal. Doing anything else is selfish. If you are too paranoid and fearful to live in society, go live somewhere else.

Suppose this happened in your town. What would you be saying if a terrorist got away because one of your neighbors refused to cooperate with the police? Would you be saying “The police were rude, so I see why he didn’t cooperate, good for him”?

Don’t make this personal - we’re in Great Debates, not the Pit.