Lawyer: 'Patriots Day' Unfair to Boston Bomber's Widow
Katherine Russell was married to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died during a violent encounter with police.
A lawyer for Katherine Russell, widow of one of the Boston Marathon bombers, says the new film Patriots Day, starring Mark Wahlberg, is unfair because it suggests she knew something was up before the attack and didn't cooperate with the investigation afterward.
"It's just not true," lawyer Amato DeLuca told the Associated Press. "I have no objection to them making a movie. … What I quarrel with is the license they take in portraying Katie as someone who did not cooperate and try to save lives. She did everything she could."
The movie opened this week in Boston, New York and Los Angeles and will open Jan. 13 nationwide.
Russell was married to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died during a violent encounter with police.
She has never been charged with any wrongdoing, and her lawyer has said repeatedly that she didn't suspect anything before the bombings.
In one scene in Patriots Day, Russell is shown being defiant as an investigator grills her on whether there are more bombs. The character also refuses to answer questions and asks for a lawyer but is told she has no right to one.
Richard DesLauriers, who was special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston division during the bombings, told the Associated Press he believes the portrayal is on base.
"I have no reason whatsoever to believe that anything about this aspect of the movie is inaccurate," said DesLauriers, who is no longer with the FBI.
DeLuca said Russell willingly sat down with authorities multiple times, including in the hours after her husband was killed. She also talked eight to 10 times with three Washington-based anti-terror investigators during meetings at the kitchen table in her parents' home in Rhode Island as well as at his law office in Providence, he said.
"It was always very cordial. It was always very cooperative. Good people," he said this week of the Washington-based investigators.
DeLuca said it was unfair to focus on the moments of turmoil in the hours after her husband was killed when she was frightened and confused by what had happened, while ignoring the months she spent answering questions, reviewing photographs and offering help.
"It just feeds into this belief that people like Katie would place themselves above the country and above their patriotism, because she's a Muslim," he said. "She did what any of us would have done."
Russell has since moved to New Jersey with her daughter.
Her brother-in-law's trial revealed that before her husband went to Russia in 2012, someone had done searches on her computer on the rewards of dying as a martyr's spouse. Russell's friend testified about a text exchange they had the day of the attacks in which Russell told her that as far as she knew, Tamerlan was at home and said more people are killed every day in Syria.
During a news conference last week, producer Michael Radutzky said the interrogation scene was "triple-sourced from multiple authorities" based on "significant reporting about her behavior, her affect, her manner and the words she had to say." Director Peter Berg said there were "unresolved issues" with Russell, and it was hard to understand how someone living in a small apartment with the bombers could not have known what was going on.
He said he had asked to speak with Russell. DeLuca said it was not in her best interest to do so.
"I'm not interested in making a movie," DeLuca said. "Why invite speculation from the public? We answered all the questions from the FBI and from the terrorist task force."
The film ends with updates on where the characters are now, three and a half years after the bombings. Russell's reads: "Law enforcement continues to seek information on Katherine Russell's possible involvement in the bombing."
"That's news to me," DeLuca said. "No one has made any suggestion that's what's going on. Obviously, it's been some time since this occurred. Nothing has changed."