BOSTON – Three police officers dramatically recounted how Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother hurled bombs at them during a violent confrontation days after the deadly 2013 attack.
The testimony by the Watertown officers on Monday came hours after jurors in Tsarnaev's federal death penalty trial went to see the bullet-ridden boat in which he was found hiding the evening of April 19, 2013.
The police officers described their battle with the two brothers and Dzhokhar's furious escape in a stolen car in which he ended up dragging his brother Tamerlan's body through the street.
Earlier that day, shortly after midnight, an officer spotted a carjacked Mercedes SUV on a quiet residential street. That set off a frenzied clash in which both brothers hurled explosives at police, including two pipe bombs and one pressure-cooker bomb similar to those used near the marathon finish line that killed 3 people and injured more than 260 others, the officers testified.
Joseph Reynolds, the first officer at the scene, said he "locked eyes" with the SUV driver, who was later identified as Tamerlan. Reynolds said Tamerlan got out of the car and began firing at him.
He saw a wick and a lighter and then watched as an object flew through the air, landed in the street and exploded, he said, shaking him.
"I could feel all the debris landing on top of me," he said.
Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese said he cut through backyards to get closer to the bombers, and he eventually could see their feet illuminated by car headlights. He said he aimed at the ground near their feet in the hope that the bullets would ricochet into their ankles.
But Tamerlan saw him and came charging up the street, firing at him, said Pugliese, who fired back.
The two men came face to face, with only 6 to 8 feet separating them, Pugliese said. But Tamerlan had a problem with his pistol, the officer said.
"He kind of looked at his gun. He looked at me. We looked at each other," Pugliese said. "I think out of frustration, he threw his gun at me."
Pugliese said he tackled him Tamerlan, who struggled as three officers tried to handcuff him, even though he was wounded and bleeding.
That's when they saw the stolen car speeding toward them with Dzhokhar behind the wheel, Pugliese said.
Dzhokhar ran over his brother and dragged his body 25 to 30 feet, Pugliese said. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died of gunshot wounds and the injuries he suffered when he was hit by the car.
After a massive manhunt and door-to-door search, Dzhokhar was found hiding in a boat parked in a backyard in Watertown. The owner of the boat is expected to testify Tuesday.
The boat was brought to a location in South Boston so the jury could see it. The Associated Press was one of two news organizations and three courtroom sketch artists allowed to see the boat and provide pool coverage for the media.
The 18 jurors walked around the outside of the boat and peered inside, while Tsarnaev, flanked by three attorneys and U.S. marshals, watched impassively from a table about 50 feet away.
The red and white boat is covered with more than 100 bullet holes marked individually with small pieces of white evidence tape. Inside the boat, the note Tsarnaev wrote denouncing the U.S. for its wars in Muslim countries was visible. The note, written in pencil, was speckled with bullet holes and stained with blood.
Tsarnaev's lawyer admitted during opening statements that he participated in the bombings and the later crimes but said Tamerlan was the mastermind who recruited the then 19-year-old Dzhokhar to help him.
Prosecutors say Tsarnaev was a full and willing participant. Now 21, he faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.