As ‘Patriots Day’ opens, officer’s family seeks recognition
BOSTON (AP) — The mayor and others are pressing for recognition for a police officer who died a year after being wounded in a confrontation with the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, because the new Mark Wahlberg film about the attack doesn’t mention him.
Officer Dennis “D.J.” Simmonds was injured when a pipe bomb exploded near him days after the bombing. The explosive device was thrown by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown on April 19, 2013, as they tried to escape. A year later, Simmonds, 28, suffered a fatal brain aneurysm while working out at the Boston Police Academy gym.
The state retirement board later awarded the Simmonds family a $150,000 line-of-duty benefit after a medical panel found that the aneurysm most likely was related to the injuries he suffered during the confrontation with the bombers.
Simmonds’ family believes he should be recognized as the fifth fatality caused by the Tsarnaev brothers. Three people were killed when the Tsarnaevs detonated two pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon finish line. Several days later, the brothers shot and killed MIT Officer Sean Collier hours before they engaged in a shootout with police in Watertown.
The bombing victims and Collier are mentioned by name in “Patriots Day,” which premieres on Wednesday in Boston. Simmonds is not, something his father, Dennis R. Simmonds, calls a hurtful “snub.”
“I think they should make some type of statement, not only for D.J., but for ... the large number of officers that were on the ground that night and responded,” he said.
In 2015, Simmonds’ name was added to a memorial honoring Massachusetts law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.
Boston police spokesman Lt. Det. Michael McCarthy said the department supports the family in their push to get recognition for his sacrifice. He declined to comment on the movie.
“We stand behind the family,” he said.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh urged the film’s executives to somehow acknowledge Simmonds.
“They could have put it in,” Walsh told the Boston Herald. “I’m not sure if it’s an oversight or what have you. ... Hopefully, they do the right thing.”
In a statement, a production spokesperson for “Patriots Day” said documenting an event such as the marathon bombing in a two-hour film “limits the number of individual stories you are able to tell.”
The on-screen dedication said the film was dedicated “to all those injured, to the first responders and medical professionals, and to all members of law enforcement who demonstrated courage, compassion and dedication throughout the tragic events of April 2013.”
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following the shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured hiding in a boat in Watertown and was sentenced to death last year. He is appealing that sentence.