Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
May 14, 2013

Guests: Julian Epstein, Gov. Mark Dayton, Tim Menton, Miguel Colon, Joe Reynolds, John McLellan, Jeff Pugliese

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: We have breaking news tonight on multiple
fronts.

First, a little over an hour ago, the president issued this statement
in reaction to the Treasury inspector general`s report on the Internal
Revenue Service`s handling of applications for tax-exempt status by
political groups.

"I have now had the opportunity to review the Treasury Department
watchdog`s report on the investigation of IRS personnel who improperly
targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. And the
report`s findings are intolerable and inexcusable. The federal government
must conduct itself in a way that`s worthy of the public`s trust, and
that`s especially true for the IRS. The IRS must apply the law in a fair
and impartial way and its employees must act with utmost integrity. This
report shows some of its employees failed that test.

I directed Secretary Lew to hold those responsible for these failures
accountable and to make sure that each of the inspector general`s
recommendations are implemented quickly so that such conduct never happens
again. But regardless how this conduct was allowed to take place, the
bottom line is it was wrong.

Public service is a solemn privilege. I expect everyone who serves in
the federal government to hold themselves to the highest ethical and moral
standards. So do the American people, and as president I intend to make
sure our public servants live up to those standards."

The key finding in the inspector general`s report says this: "Early in
calendar year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify
organizations applying for tax-exempt status to review for indications of
significant political campaign intervention."

That is the first sentence of the inspector general`s report, and that
sentence is not true. In fact, as shown on this program last night,
beginning in 1959, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify
organizations applying for tax-exempt status. The Treasury and the IRS
deliberately and inexplicably changed the intent of the law.

The code itself defines 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations as
civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated
exclusively -- exclusively -- for the promotion of social welfare.

The interpretation guidelines of the IRS then say this as of 1959: To
be operated exclusively to promote social welfare, an organization must
operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the
people of the community.

The IRS changed in effect the legal word exclusively to primarily with
no authority whatsoever, and the IRS has been using that incorrect
interpretation guideline since 1959. This is a case of the government
being wrong for so long that the government and no one in it seems to know
how wrong the government has been. It is entirely possible that no one in
the White House counsel`s office tonight knows this and no one currently
working in Treasury knows this.

But even if they do, the Obama administration has obviously decided it
is now impossible to try to teach the truth to an American news media that
is incapable of comprehending it and refuses to read original sources like
the laws on which their theoretical scandals are based.

And, of course, when in doubt, a politician can never go wrong in
condemning the Internal Revenue Service.

Joining me now are: Julian Epstein, Democratic strategist and former
counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, and Ari Melber, co-host of
MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE".

Ari, I want to go to the politics of where the president I think found
himself boxed in tonight, and that is the absolutely unanimous use of the
word "outrage" across the board in the political media about this
situation, when in fact the real outrage is that the IRS changed the legal
meaning of this provision in 1959 and left it to judgment calls ever since.

And it doesn`t seem like anyone in the White House or Treasury thought
there`s any way they can get a correct record here, and they might as well
just jump on the bandwagon of saying this is outrageous.

ARI MELBER, THE CYCLE: Yes, politically, they don`t want to fight
that battle. To your point, Nicholas Confessore of "The New York Times" is
reporting today that what is clear from the report from the inspector
general is that the IRS officials carrying this out don`t understand some
of their own regulations and the underlying law, dovetails with what you
were saying.

I think the larger perspective here and what ties some of these so-
called scandals together is the fact that Republicans will not let go.
They know exactly what their playbook is.

I`m reminded when Jeannie Kilpatrick (ph) said there was "blame
America first" crowd. What we have, particularly with House Republicans,
is a "blame America first" crowd, a "blame Obama first" crowd for
everything.

So, any of these issues, whether someone gets a paper cut in agency or
we have some real problems with First Amendment area, or we have Benghazi
where there were obviously terrible things that happened over there -- none
of those scandals, though, have anything to do with President Obama
exerting operational control, yet always it`s "blame Obama first", ask
questions later.

I think that`s what`s most frustrating for people who care about these
issues and clearly for the White House, having said that, I have to say
something else, which is as someone that practiced First Amendment law,
there are real issues at what I would call the operational level.

Viewpoint discrimination is considered the worst kind of First
Amendment infringement, and the questions for whatever reasons of standing
incompetence, whoever has been doing that at the local level needs to be
dealt with.

But the one thing I noticed that "The A.P." and IRS scandal have in
common is no one serious, and no one impartial suggested in any way that
this comes top down from the president. Everyone is saying we have to deal
with these problems at the level of the agency or the DOJ investigators.

The fact that Washington hears Obama every time we talk about
government suggest just how divided our politics are.

O`DONNELL: Julian, when you see a law that says that a social welfare
organization has to be exclusively in the business of social welfare, seems
to me if you`re at the IRS and you`re granting tax-exempt status on that
basis, the word party appearing on the application is suspicion enough,
whether that is Democratic Party, Republican Party, Tea Party, communist
party -- a party is a political organization with political objectives, it
is not a social welfare organization.

JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That`s right, and you`re right
and you`re correct, Lawrence, in your interpretation of the law, it has
been honored in the breach. And what of the tricky things here, is that
it`s not clear, who has standing to challenge it to bring it in compliance
with the letter of the law as opposed to how the agencies have been
implementing this law for the last 40 or 50 years.

So, I think that`s point one.

Point two is --

O`DONNELL: Let me just -- let me just interject there, Julian.

The Treasury now in this I.G.`s report is saying, well, now, let`s fix
this and let`s give the IRS clear guidelines how to interpret it. That is
absolutely impossible as long as you use this vague word "primarily." The
guideline they should give them is go to the exclusively standard, just use
that and you`ll never get in trouble.

EPSTEIN: You don`t need guidelines when the statute is clear. I
think that`s point one.

O`DONNELL: Right.

EPSTEIN: Point two, I would disagree a little with Ari. I think it
is important to distinguish this IRS issue from Benghazi and from "The
A.P." story. The latter two I don`t think are a scandal, I don`t think
there`s anything necessarily improper done by the administration.

But here, what the I.G. report is saying is that you have an agency
that was overwhelmed after the Citizens United case with hundreds, perhaps
thousands of applications for the 501(c)(4) status, more disproportionately
on the conservative side.

Now, we can all stipulate, we all should stipulate that whatever the
standard is, the IRS should not selectively enforce the law or selectively
apply the standard. What the I.G. report seems to have shown is exactly
what the president and what senior officials inside the administration were
saying, which was one, that this inappropriate targeting, and it was
inappropriate, was done by low level employees, they were told by superiors
to stop, there was no evidence that any of the applications by conservative
groups were denied. They were slowed down, and perhaps they were asked
inappropriate questions, but they ultimately did get the 501(c)(4) status.

And most importantly, there was no connection outside the IRS to
anybody inside the administration in terms of this activity. So, there was
no showing to anybody senior inside the Treasury Department, the White
House or anywhere else and any knowledge or condoned this in any way, and
that`s exactly consistent with what the president was saying.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber, in my experience, nothing makes the political
media lazier than the ability to use the word "scandal" because from that
point forward, all they do is live in the world of adjectives, how much
pressure does this put on so and so, and forget the fact basis from which
they`re supposed to emerge some scandal. And going to "The A.P." story, we
had Eric Holder come out today, talking about that -- the subpoenas that
went out to get phone records of "The A.P." over two-month period.

Again, this is all covered within law and if there`s something
scandalous about it, it is the existence of the law that very clearly
allows it to happen, and reporters will always and forever think that they
are a special class with special laws that apply to them, but unfortunately
those laws don`t actually exist.

MELBER: Well, the First Amendment, you know, identifies the press and
the public as beneficiaries of a range of rights from religion and assembly
to freedom of the press itself. Branzburg v. Hayes does talk about a type
of qualified reporter`s privilege that is available to professional
reporters. State legislatures have in most states defined that as
professional members of the press.

So yes, people at home can say now here`s a reporter talking about how
the news affects them and the press is a constituency group. And so, that
will be difficult as "The A.P." story continues, because people will
rightly question whether the press is overly interested in this because we
and our rights are at issue.

Having said that, I spent a lot of time on these issues. I think the
problem with the way this was approached on telephone records, it was very
broad. I am not suggesting it`s illegal. In fact, it may have -- to your
point, Lawrence, followed the DOJ guidelines, but we have to look at
aggressive pursuit of these leaks and when they are whistleblowers and
legitimate leaks that may help us govern versus national security.

I think it`s important thing to stay on top of. I just don`t think it
has anything thus far with decisions by President Obama.

EPSTEIN: There are some important facts, Lawrence. Remember what the
DOJ was doing was going after a very limited, they`re not investigating
"A.P." What they were looking for with the administrative subpoenas were
telephone numbers of people that were calling certain numbers at "The
Associated Press" because we had overwhelming evidence of a very serious
crime committed, namely the leaking and exposure of a CIA double agent who
had gotten inside al Qaeda in Yemen and who had exposed and prevented a
plot to take down an airliner that could have killed hundreds of Americans.

It is one of the most serious crimes that could occur against this
country, one of the most serious criminal offenses. And what the
administration is doing, they were fully within the law in terms of just
going after what they call toll records, actual phone numbers.

No conversations were eavesdropped on.

O`DONNELL: Julian, I`m sorry, I got to interrupt. We`ve got to leave
it there. We have a jam-packed show. Obviously, we will be on this
subject, have you both back to talk again.

Julian Epstein, and Ari Melber, thank you both for joining us tonight.

EPSTEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, there is more breaking news tonight. The
coordinator of an army sexual assault prevention program is tonight accused
of abusive sexual conduct. Joy Reid will join me on that next.

And the governor of Minnesota tonight signed marriage equality into
law in that state. The governor will join me also.

Later tonight, also, my exclusive interview with five Watertown police
officers who stopped the Boston marathon bombers terror spree, the officer
who shot Tamerlan Tsarnaev will tell his story for the first time, along
with other officers who fought for their lives that night against a hail of
bullets and bombs. The heroes who stopped the Tsarnaev brothers in their
tracks right here in Watertown will join me tonight in a LAST WORD
exclusive to tell America their story for the first time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The terror spree of the Boston marathon bombings ended in
the middle of the night in Watertown where I am broadcasting this show
tonight, a town that borders Boston.

One of the four Watertown police officers on patrol at that time when
those bombing suspect came into Watertown was Joe Reynolds who was the
first to spot a car that was reported hijacked in nearby Cambridge.

He told me today what happened when he spotted that hijacked car.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OFC. JOE REYNOLDS, WATERTOWN POLICE: I located the Mercedes near
Dexter Ave and it was actually coming towards me. So, he kind of slowed
down and I slowed down, kind of made eye contact. At that time I turned my
vehicle around, started following him. I radioed to dispatch that I had
the vehicle in question that we were looking for.

O`DONNELL: So, in your first pass with him, you`re going in different
directions, he slows down, you slow down, you make eye contact with
Tamerlan behind the wheel of that car?

REYNOLDS: Correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joe Reynolds had no idea he was looking at one of the
bombing suspects and had no idea that hell was about to rain down on him as
he sat alone in his police car. We will have more of my exclusive
interview with Joe Reynolds and the other Watertown police officers that
dodged bullets and bombs in that final show down with the marathon bombing
suspects.

But coming up next, breaking news about the sexual assault crisis in
the military. Another military official stands accused tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In breaking news tonight, a coordinator for the Army`s
sexual assault prevention program in Fort Hood, Texas, is under
investigation for abuse I have sexual contact, pandering, assault,
maltreatment of subordinates. A defense official tells NBC News that the
sergeant first class is now being investigated for forcing at least one
subordinate soldier into prostitution, and for sexually assaulting two
other soldiers. The sergeant has been suspended from his duties, but no
charges have been filed, and the Army will not release his identity.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered a full investigation
tonight. The Pentagon press secretary released this statement from Hagel.
"I cannot convey strongly enough Secretary Hagel`s frustration, anger and
disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in
discipline and standards they imply. To address the broader concerns that
have arisen out of these allegations and other recent events, Secretary
Hagel is directing all services to retrain, re-credential, re-screen all
sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters."

This news comes just days after the head of the Air Force sexual
assault prevention program was arrested and charged with sexual battery
after groping a woman in a parking lot.

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Joy Reid.

Joy, my head is spinning here, forcing a soldier into prostitution? I
thought I had read everything already that could happen in one of these
cases.

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Lawrence. And what`s really even
doubly frightening about what`s happening right now in terms of the two
cases, is it does appear that sexual predators, OK, that sexual predators,
we`re saying allegedly, because these are still charges, are zeroing in on
jobs that place them in front of the most vulnerable women, the most
vulnerable people in the service, which is people who are already going for
counseling because of alleged abuse.

So people that are in this position are essentially abusing and
putting themselves in position to further abuse and further harm and
humiliate and hurt these women.

So, clearly, the military has a problem, there`s a culture problem,
there`s a problem in terms of how these cases are handled, and we do know
there are women in the Senate, United States Senate led by Kirsten
Gillibrand who are saying, OK, the military -- if you can`t handle your own
personnel, these guys need to be prosecuted outside the chain of command.
We need to take the chain of command off the table and prosecute predators
in the criminal justice system -- in the civilian criminal justice system.

This is something I know Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel doesn`t want to
do, but I don`t see how he avoids at least considering it at this point.

O`DONNELL: The women of the Senate Armed Services Committee issuing
statements. Senator Gillibrand has issued an outraged statement. As we
would expect, she was on this program discussing this last week. Senator
Patty Murray says, "This is sickening. Twice now in a matter of as many
weeks, we have seen the people charged with protecting victims of sexual
assault being charged as perpetrators."

Joy, sickening is the word. And it`s just getting more sickening as
these cases pile up.

REID: Yes. What the military has to worry about, the United States
military is still most respected in the country. But what they risk is
taking on the same sort of taint that we saw in the rampant Catholic sex
abuse scandals, where you saw a hierarchy that was covering for predators,
rather than removing and prosecuting them, and turning them over to law
enforcement.

The military has to make a decision here, whether or not they are
going to allow the entire sort of image of the United States military as a
place where women can serve admirably and turning it into a place where
predators are protected. I think prosecution outside the chain of command
is a must, must be considered at this point.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, thank you very much for joining us on this
breaking news story, which is a scandal.

REID: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the governor of Minnesota just signed a bill
into law legalizing same-sex marriage in that state. He will join me,
next.

And later, my exclusive interview with the police officers that faced
bullets and bombs as they fought to stop the Boston marathon bombing
suspects. You will hear them tell me their amazing story in their own
words. You have never heard anything like this. This is the first telling
of their story. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So far, they`ve only recovered one gun from this whole
incident. Was it your impression there that both of the brothers had guns
and both of them were firing?

SGT. JEFFY PUGLIESE, WATERTOWN POLICE: I think it appeared because
the shots were coming both sides of the vehicle. In my opinion, it
appeared they were firing more than one firearm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was the Watertown police sergeant, Jeff Pugliese, who
shot Tamerlan Tsarnaev and tackled him, handcuffed him after one of the
moist horrific police gun battles in American history. We will have more
of his story and his partner`s story that night, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MARK DAYTON (D), MINNESOTA: Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness
certainly include the right to marry the person you love.

(APPLAUSE)

DAYTON: So it is now my honor to sign into law this next step for the
state of Minnesota to fulfill its promise to every Minnesotan.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton a few hours ago,
just before signing the bill that made Minnesota the 12th state along with
Washington, D.C. to legalize marriage equality. Just one Republican in the
state senate voted for the measure. Before casting his vote, Republican
State Senator Brendan Peterson said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENDAN PETERSON (R), MINNESOTA STATE SENATOR: And to my kids, Cash
and Paisley -- they`re two and one, so they don`t quite understand exactly
what`s going on here today. And regardless of whether you one day agree
with my position on this issue, I just want to say that in all things
related to your faith, to your freedom, to your family, be bold and be
courageous, and you`ll never regret a day in your life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Governor Dayton praised the state legislature for passing
the bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAYTON: By your political courage, you join that pantheon of
exceptional leaders that did something truly extraordinary. You changed
the course of history for our state and our nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now in a LAST WORD exclusive, Minnesota
Governor Mark Dayton. Governor, thank you very much for joining us
tonight.

DAYTON: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Governor, did you feel that this was one of those
instances where history was coming your way and history simply could not be
denied?

DAYTON: Well, I think history was coming the way of people of
Minnesota, who pride ourselves in being one of the forefront of progressive
social change. And in this instance, you know, last year in the election
there was attempt to pass a constitutional amendment that would have
prohibited marriage equality in Minnesota forever. Instead now we`re two
and a half months away from legalizing the freedom of marriage.

O`DONNELL: And governor, many observers are saying this is a very
important milestone because it is the first Midwest state, and this could
help momentum in that region, particularly possibly influencing Illinois to
go next. Did you feel that this was a special moment to be that first
Midwestern state?

DAYTON: Well, yes. You know, we again pride ourselves on leading the
way. I hope other states will follow. We`re the 12th. So we`re -- one
after another, and if you look at the demographics of the differences of
opinion, Minnesotans and elsewhere, you know, it`s those of us in the older
generation have more difficulty with this concept. But younger people,
they get it overwhelmingly.

So the time is on the side of those that want every American to have
the same equal protections of the law that the 14th Amendment of the
Constitution guarantees.

O`DONNELL: Governor, your state perplexes some political observers.
You send Al Franken to the Senate. It`s the same state that sends Michele
Bachmann to the House of Representatives. How do you explain this
interesting range in your Congressional delegation and what your state
politics produces?

DAYTON: Well, Minnesotans are very well educated, very well informed
voters. We have one of the highest voter participation rates of any state
in the nation. I think voters take their time and size candidates up. And
they go for the person, not the party.

O`DONNELL: Governor, when this marriage equality bill started to move
in the legislature, did it seem like this was a sure thing all the way
through, that the votes were going to be there?

DAYTON: No, not at all. In fact, at the beginning of the session, I
think most observers would have said that it is not going to pass. Senator
Peterson, who you highlighted, is one of the real heroes in this, a
Republican senator who came out very early and said he was going to support
it. There were four members, Republicans in the Minnesota House who defied
some of the radical right of their party to vote for it.

And people ended up voting their own conscience. There were Democrats
who are from rural areas who may have some challenges next fall because of
this vote, who didn`t have to vote because it passed with 75 to 59. But
they wanted to vote. They wanted to do the right thing. And they were
willing to put their careers on the line because they knew this was the
right thing to do.

O`DONNELL: Well, that is one of the striking things, governor, when
you mention that when you had more -- that once you got down to the finish
line, you had more votes than you needed, and still for the -- people whom
it was a political risky vote still cast that vote. That`s when you know
something historic is happening.

DAYTON: I think that`s exactly what they felt, that this was
something bigger than even their own re-election.

O`DONNELL: Governor Mark Dayton, thank you very much for joining us
on this historic night for Minnesota.

DAYTON: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Boston Marathon bombing suspects were on
their way out of town but they never made it because some brave Watertown
police officers stopped them. You will hear those police officers tell you
their shocking story for the first time. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Hours after their photographs were shown to the world, the
Boston Marathon bombing suspects murdered an MIT police officer and were
headed out of town with a hijacked car when they drove into the adjacent
town of Watertown. There were only four patrol officers and a supervisor
on duty after midnight in Watertown then. But that was enough to stop the
bombing suspects in their tracks. That small band of police brothers was
not going to let those suspects get out of Watertown alive.

The small town cops, who had never fired their guns in the line of
duty, risked their lives in the face of bullets and bombs, the kind of
assault no other American police officers have ever had to face. And
they`re all alive to tell their stories tonight. And that is one of the
miracles of that amazing night.

They told their story for the first time today, beginning with Officer
Joe Reynolds who was alone in his car when he began following a Mercedes
that had been reported hijacked earlier that evening.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE REYNOLDS, WATERTOWN POLICE OFFICER: I was following the vehicle.
You know, he was going pretty slow, so I was kind of keeping my distance,
didn`t know if he was going to take off on me, jump out of the car, start
running. So at that point, he stopped his vehicle. And I was probably,
you know, 10, 15 yards away. And Tamerlan jumped out, and he just started
walking towards my cruiser, started firing at me.

O`DONNELL: Now, this is the strangest moment possibly in the whole
story. You are pursuing a car wanted in a carjack. And the person you`re
pursuing stops, gets out of a car and walks toward a police car.

REYNOLDS: Right.

O`DONNELL: Firing a gun.

REYNOLDS: Yeah. It`s crazy.

O`DONNELL: What are you thinking at that moment?

REYNOLDS: I mean, my first reaction was just to create some distance.
He was kind of walking up on me, and I had no defense at that point,
besides the cruiser. So what I did was I ducked below my dashboard, and I
put my cruiser in reverse. I backed up maybe 30 yards. While I was
backing up, I radioed to dispatch shots fired, shots fired. At that point,
I stopped the vehicle, jumped out, put it in park, used my driver`s side
door as cover. And we just started firing back and forth at each other.

O`DONNELL: How many shots did he fire before you got it into reverse.

REYNOLDS: It was nonstop. I couldn`t even count them. It was just
nonstop. I could hear them dinging off my cruiser.

O`DONNELL: So Sarge, you`re the first to arrive onto this scene
that`s already an open firefight. What do you see when you arrive?

SGT. JOHN MACLELLAN, WATERTOWN POLICE: As I come around the corner, I
see Officer Reynolds, his vehicle is now in reverse. So I missed the first
five to 10 seconds of him getting out of the vehicle, starting to fire at
him. I could hear the gunshots going off. I heard Officer Reynolds say
"shots fired."

I put my car in park. As I put my car in park, the -- a round came
through the windshield. At the time, you know, I wasn`t sure how close it
was or what the -- how far -- how many suspects we had. I didn`t know
anything yet. But I know someone is getting close with some rounds.

So at that time, I take cover behind the engine, which is down low,
put it in park. And I`m attempting to get my AR-15 out of the locked
container that it`s in, in our cruiser. I tried two or three times. I
couldn`t get it out. I thought it was just a matter of time before he`s
going to zero in and get me. So I had to -- I made a decision to get rid
of the cruiser.

I stepped on the brake, put it in drive, jumped out, let the cruiser
go down -- go down range towards the bad guys.

O`DONNELL: And you`re both out there just with your handguns.

MACLELLAN: Correct.

O`DONNELL: And how much ammunition do you have between you at that
point?

REYNOLDS: I had 40 bullets.

MACLELLAN: And I had 27 I believe.

O`DONNELL: When does this shift from you`ve got incoming bullets to
suddenly there`s bombs?

MACLELLAN: Almost like 30 seconds.

REYNOLDS: Yeah, 30 seconds into it. We were standing next to each
other. I think we both saw something flying through the air. At least I
think I said something to you. I said, Sarge, we got to move. I said
there`s something. And you know, there was a big explosion. We kept
running back and forth into the backyard, trying to get better cover.

O`DONNELL: Who do you think is the next person that gets there on the
scene?

MIGUEL COLON, WATERTOWN POLICE: Officer Colon. As I make it on
Dexter Ave, I can hear the shots. I pull up. I see Officer Reynolds
behind -- right now what I saw when I came in, he was behind his cruiser,
465, which is a little back. Then I saw Sergeant McLellan behind his
cruiser. And they were both exchanging gunfire.

I just fear that he did not have the right cover at that time. So I
placed my cruiser right in between his cruiser and Officer Reynolds`
cruiser. I don`t know what I did. I just -- my first thing, again, is
take fire away from him. So I opened the door, put the spotlight towards
them, and received fire right away. Then I saw, right after I`m getting
around behind the -- my car, let off a few rounds.

Then I see something thrown at us and I could only see the fuse,
almost something lit up, and going off in the middle of the road.

O`DONNELL: Who do we think got there next at this point?

SGT. JEFF PUGLIESE, WATERTOWN POLICE: I would say I probably arrived
next.

O`DONNELL: So what did you hear? Were you on duty? Were you off
duty?

PUGLIESE: So I started heading their way. Got about a quarter mile
from the police station here, and that`s when I heard the shots fired,
shots fired. So I think I made it the mile and a half in about 30 seconds,
down to where they were. And as I`m pulling up, I could hear the gunfire.

I kind of assessed things, thought let me see if I can get around and
flank them. So I decided to cut down the front of the house that we were
by, down the side yard, over a couple of fences into different backyards,
and came up on the suspects` left side. I decided to try taking a couple
of skip shots. That`s when you shoot at the ground, and try to ricochet
the round up, and try to take them out at the ankles.

I tried a couple of rounds like that. That`s when ultimately turns
out it was Tamerlan realized I was there. He left his position of cover,
came running up the sidewalk firing at me, caught up between a car and a
chain-link fence, separating -- that fence separated the yard that I was
in. And he ran up about five feet up that driveway, confronted me, and
started firing at me.

He was about six or eight feet from me, firing his pistol at me. I
was firing at him. I had run out of ammunition. I had to do a reload in
the middle of that. He had a problem with his firearm. I don`t know if he
jammed on him or what. He kind of looked at his gun, then threw it at me,
hit me in the left bicep here, turned, ran back down the driveway to the
street, took a left, running towards the other officers that were on scene.

And I holstered up and I chased after him and tackled him. You know,
it`s -- he didn`t, you know, get thrown back. It is not like the movies
where you shoot somebody and they get thrown 10, 15 feet back. That`s not
reality. People can take the bullets and keep on fighting.

O`DONNELL: Tim, when did you come into this?

TIM MENTON, WATERTOWN POLICE: I was right by the front of cruiser. I
knew that if he was going to get away, he would kill more innocent people
in the future. I engaged him in gunfire. Once he wasn`t -- I couldn`t
shoot him anymore, based on his distance, I reloaded. I heard somebody
yell behind me, I`m hit. I turned around, ran to the driveway, where I
found Officer Donahue -- he`s with his transit partner. He went down to
the ground. He said I`m hit in the groin.

Right away, are you going to be OK? Even if he`s not going to be,
you`re telling him he is going to be OK. Then his leg just like opened up
like a faucet, blood everywhere. So I am kneeling down next to him, pull a
tourniquet out of my pocket. Me and another officer try to put it on him.
But where he was shot, it was too high on the groin for a tourniquet to be
used.

Then I just did almost like a CPR move and pushed my hands into the
wound, just to try to stem the flow of blood. That didn`t seem to help too
much. Blood was just ballooning around us. He quickly lost consciousness,
went pale white. And there was Harvard University police on the scene,
Boston Police. Officer Reynolds arrived with a medical bag, and started
giving oxygen to Officer Donahue, started chest compressions, had to rip-
off his vest, calling for the rescue like crazy.

That ends up showing up on scene, the Watertown Rescue. My brother, a
firefighter, gets out of the driver passenger side. He comes up on scene
with Jimmy Caruso, another firefighter.

O`DONNELL: So it`s your brother who shows up with the ambulance?

MENTON: He showed up on the scene, yes. We basically locked eyes and
had a moment like -- he was like thank God you`re not the one on the
ground, because I think Trav thought it might have been.

O`DONNELL: He had heard the radio traffic that there was an officer
down, and he was worried it could be his brother, Tim.

MENTON: Yes, exactly. I think first reports were that a Watertown
Police Officer was down. And he didn`t know whether I was off duty yet.
And then when we saw each other, we just had that momentary recognition in
the eyes. And Officer Donahue just in the air. Like I don`t really
remember, they helped pick him up, just like a feather. Tossed him back in
the ambulance with my brother and Jimmy Caruso. And then Trooper Dumar
(ph) from State, he`s a paramedic, gets in the back, and they start working
on him.

I think a transit cop yelled out, it`s like who knows the streets, who
is going to drive to the hospital? So I run over, hop in the driver`s
seat. Donahue`s partner hops in the passenger seat.

O`DONNELL: Because the team that drove this ambulance there is now in
the back trying to save the life. So the regular driver is back there
trying to save Officer Donahue`s life.

MENTON: Exactly. They`re working to save him as best as they can.
So I just hopped in the driver`s seat, and we tear off out of there, try to
get to the hospital as fast as possible.

O`DONNELL: You had never driven one of these things before?

MENTON: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, that`s what I take out of all of this. You
know, this I call for help. We`re in a small town, four cruisers on the
street, one supervisor, I call for help during a firefight, and by the end
of the firefight we have officers from different communities in our
community helping us. So he comes to save our lives and they end up saving
his life, which is a perfect circle as far as I`m concerned.

That`s the upper bowl of police work, saving another police officer`s
life. This wasn`t like they pulled him out of the way of a -- pulled him
out of a burning building or pulled him out of a car. I mean, this officer
was dead and they kept him alive with oxygen and pumping his chest. And to
me, you know, that -- his wife has a husband and his child has a father
because of these two right here.

O`DONNELL: Let`s just go to the strangest thing in this story, Joe,
which is this moment that you lived through alone, which is you`re in
pursuit and he stops. They stopped and get out of the car. I have never
heard of this in police pursuit of anyone, this stopping, getting out of
the car, walking toward a police officer in a car and shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, he hadn`t activated his lights or
anything. He didn`t let them know technically that he was interested in
stopping them or anything else. You know, they just stopped dead in the
middle of the road, and started attacking him. You know, so like I said,
it wasn`t a pursuit. I think those words are misleading.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You also have to remember, they had -- everything
that they have done before this, they have won. They placed bombs. They
got away with it. They assassinated a cop. They got away with it. They
carjacked this guy. They got away with it. They`re starting to think we
can do whatever we want. We`re going to do whatever we want. We`re going
to take it -- next cop that we see, we`re going to take it to him.

Luckily, it was us. And we acted the right way. And we came together
as a team. And thank God they`re where they should be and we`re where we
should be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: After all of that, the only thing that made those guys
uncomfortable in our conversation today was when I called them heroes. We
will have more of what they had to say in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: One thing I`ve always noticed about real heroes is that
they don`t like being called heroes. And that`s certainly true of the
heroes of the Watertown Police Department, who stopped the Boston Marathon
bombing suspects in their tracks. In our conversation today, I called them
heroes several times. And each time, each one of them shrugged it off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: After 33 years of doing this, here is this moment. Do you
in that moment ever think I have a duty to my family to survive this? I
have to limit my personal risk because we`re going to have enough
reinforcements come here to eventually get these guys?

MACLELLAN: You can`t think like that. My wife and children is not
going to want to hear that. my daughter is not going to want to hear that,
but you cannot think like that. I mean, this is our job. Police officers
get paid for what they may have to do, not what they do every day. And
that was our job that night. We had to do it.

I mean, if not us, who`s going to stop them? I mean, a civilian going
to stop them or are they going to go out and kill more civilians? We can`t
let them do that. We had to do what we did.

O`DONNELL: What`s the effect of this on the Watertown Police
Department?

PUGLIESE: I think it has brought great pride to all the officers in
the department. And I think it has brought everybody closer, you know. I
see that there`s more of a closeness within the department than there was
before, because people are realizing that, geez, you know, I might not be
talking to Joe or Tim or John or Miguel or Jeff. Geez, he might not have
been here today if things had gone differently.

And I just think there`s a closeness that wasn`t -- there`s always
been a closeness, but I think it`s brought us even closer. People realize
that their co-workers, they could have been burying them.

MACLELLAN: That we could do that 10 more times and you`d have to put
an X through one of us or more of us and say, funeral time for that person.
We`re very lucky.

O`DONNELL: It`s an amazing combination of decisions that you guys
made that were all right, that saved all the law enforcement lives that
were on that scene that night. That seems like more than luck to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had a good crew that night.

MACLELLAN: I know what it was, but -- I know what it was. We had a
lot of help from above, no doubt. No doubt.

O`DONNELL: Well, it`s inconceivable that the job could have been done
better or could have been done more heroically. I am going to call you
heroes whether you like it or not.

MACLELLAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for this. Really appreciate it.

MACLELLAN: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: If you`re lucky, you are being served and protected in
your local police department tonight by officers like Tim Menton, Miguel
Colon, Joe Reynolds, John McLellan and Jeff Pugliese.

That`s THE LAST WORD tonight from a lucky place called Watertown.

Chris Hayes is up next.

END

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2013 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>




Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET


Sponsored links

Resource guide