The chief of the MIT police on Wednesday recalled the last time he saw Officer Sean Collier alive — telling him to “be safe” shortly before authorities say he was killed by the Boston Marathon bombers.
Chief John DiFava testified for the government at the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He told the jury that he was leaving campus on the night of April 18, 2013, and spotted an MIT car on the street.
“I always make it a point to say hello,” the chief testified. “I chatted with him for a few minutes. I told him to be safe, and I left.”
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He put the conversation at about 9:35 p.m., less than an hour before authorities have said Collier was shot to death in his patrol car. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured in the marathon bombings three days earlier.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers have conceded that he took part in the bombings but say he was influenced by his older brother, Tamerlan, who authorities say was killed in the brothers’ getaway attempt.
Sgt. Clarence Henniger of the MIT police described finding Collier in his cruiser, covered in blood, and telling him, “Hang in there, just hang in there.” Jurors heard Henniger scream into his radio for medical help: “Get on it!”
A Cambridge police detective, Brendan O’Hearn, described performing chest compressions, trying in vain to save Collier’s life.
Jurors on Wednesday also saw the tattered pieces of a backpack that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have used to carry one of the make-shift bombs. FBI Special Agent Sarah De Lair held up pieces of the black and white backpack for the jury, saying they were found near the Forum restaurant.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now 21, faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.
— Tom Winter, Andy Thibault and Erin McClam