Bomb suspect lawyers: FBI misbehavior disqualifies evidence
NEW YORK (AP) — The FBI improperly interrogated a man who slipped in and out of consciousness while recovering from gunshot wounds after his arrest in a bombing rampage through New Jersey and New York that injured dozens of people, defense lawyers said in court papers Friday.
The lawyers sought to exclude statements made by Ahmad Khan Rahimi from an upcoming trial, although they said in a footnote that prosecutors have already said they don’t plan to use the statements as part of evidence they’ll initially show jurors.
The lawyers also asked a judge to reject evidence resulting from a hair sample they say was obtained when an FBI agent posed as a member of the defense team in December.
Rahimi, an Afghanistan-born U.S. citizen, is charged in Manhattan federal court with detonating a pipe bomb along a charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and planting two pressure cooker bombs in Manhattan on Sept. 17. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.
One of the bombs didn’t explode. The other detonated in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 30 people.
Prosecutors declined through a spokesman to comment.
In the defense submission, dated Thursday, lawyers said Rahimi was interrogated four times after he was shot at least 11 times as he was arrested on Sept. 19.
They said the efforts to interrogate him occurred in a New Jersey hospital while he was in critical condition, “encumbered by needles and restraints, often unconscious, and effectively held incommunicado, deprived of the assistance of an attorney, family or friends.”
On the first occasion, the lawyers wrote, the interrogation ended after doctors said Rahimi was “fading into an unconscious state.” Afterward, they added, he “entered respiratory failure and was moved to surgery for a tracheotomy.” The lawyers said the agents remained and left only when doctors said he would continue to be “in a critical state” for five more days.
According to the lawyers, the agents returned the following day, interviewing Rahimi more than an hour until he fell unconscious. They said a third interrogation later that day ended only when Rahimi lost consciousness and needed resuscitation as a yellow fluid came out of his mouth. A fourth interrogation the next day ended because Rahimi needed prompt medical attention, the lawyers said.
The defense submission said Rahimi recalls very little about the interrogations and cited FBI reports for some of their description.
The hair sample, they said, was taken by an FBI agent on Dec. 28, a week after the agency had obtained a warrant to retrieve it.
The lawyers claimed that an agent wearing a suit and tie did not identify himself as a law enforcement agent but gave the impression he had been sent by a defense lawyer by identifying one of the defense lawyers by her first name and asking if she had mentioned that he would stop by and then saying Rahimi would soon receive important evidence in the case that he should review.