Friday, November 22, 2013

Woody Box: What happened with the Lord&Taylor surveillance video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

Woody Box: What happened with the Lord&Taylor surveillance video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

These reports are from April 17th and emphasize the crucial role of the Lord & Taylor video as the most outstanding single piece of evidence. But four days later the complaint refers solely to the video taken by the Forum camera. Interestingly, the Washington Post had accomplished a nice graphic of the Lord & Taylor camera and its relative position to the crime scene by then, but, based on official sources, played down the significance of its footage in behalf of the Forum video.

We've never heard of the Lord & Taylor video since. Given the permanent stonewalling of the prosecution, it is highly doubtable that Tsarnaev's defense team has obtained it. This is most unfortunate because it probably contains exculpatory evidence. The defense should request it in all circumstances. Here's why - for one hour at midday of April 17th, CNN's John King put his head far over the parapet and leaked some details of what the video shows:

-  Now I am told based largely on the video analysis that came from closed-circuit cameras from the Lord & Taylor department store that according to one of these sources, they have made a clear identification of a potential suspect and they are calling this substantial progress, hopefully a breakthrough they believe in this investigation. 

-  A physical description was given to me of the suspect, Wolf, I want to be very careful here because this is very sensitive information, but the description given to be was (INAUDIBLE) is a dark-skinned individual.

-  but I'm told from the video analysis that they now have what they believe to be clear video image of a suspect approaching the site, placing a package and leaving the site and placing a package that matches the description of what they have been looking for, the size of the package, the black bag and like and they have those images now being analyzed and to such detail I am told that they believe they have a clear identification including a facial image of a suspect.

-  they've enhanced the video and have a close-up look at this individual they have on video they say dropping a package, making a placement that they believe to be the explosive device. And they say it's a dark-skinned male.

-  But I am told that the video showed clearly at the site of the second explosion an individual showing up and placing a black bag. Officials said they've been looking for a black backpack or duffel bag, placing it at the scene of the second explosion and leaving it at the scene of the second explosion.

-  I've just been told that an arrest has been made. We know they have identified a suspect based on surveillance video and they were then taking the further steps in the investigation. Just in to us, and again, Fran Townsend has a second source, and this is from one of her sources, that an arrest has been made in this investigation. A dramatic shift. We're waiting for the public briefing today at 5:00 p.m. here in Boston. We do know from other sources -- I was told this morning that the big breakthrough came from surveillance video from the Lord & Taylor Department Store right near the site. 

-  And again, we have a local source, a Boston law enforcement source and Fran has a federal source telling her the arrest has been made. I was told the video enhancement showed a dark-skinned male placing the package at the second explosion site and backing away.

Let's summarize. King emphasizes that the breakthrough came from the Lord & Taylor footage and that the video shows a dark-skinned male - identified by a clear facial image - dropping a black bag at the Forum. Then he reports that an arrest has been made based on this surveillance video. This information is independently confirmed by Boston law enforcement sources as well as federal sources.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's skin color doesn't differ from a white, "Caucasian" American; his bag was light-colored, not black; and he was not being arrested at this time. In other words: he was not the individual who was clearly identified by the enhanced footage from the Lord & Taylor camera.

Not all of the details reported by King - f.i. the "dark-skinned male" - are confirmed by other sources; but the importance of the Lord & Taylor video, the clear identification of the suspect and the black bag are (Boston Globe).

The alleged arrest, despite being disclaimed shortly later, was widely reported, amongst others by the Associated Press and the Boston Globe:

So it is difficult to dismiss this message as a pure rumor. In fact, a big crowd of journalists gathered in front of the Moakley courthouse, where they expected the suspect to be. Strangely, the courthouse was subsequently evacuated due to a bomb threat.
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