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Officer Dennis Simmonds: 5 things to know about the Boston bombing's 5th victim

Controversy over "Patriots Day" is just the latest chapter in a family’s years-long push for their son to be honored and recognized as the Boston bombing's 5th victim


The Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers and the NAACP’s Boston branch recently joined the family of fallen Officer Dennis “DJ” Simmonds in criticizing the creators of “Patriots Day” for omitting him from the film. Starring Mark Wahlberg, the movie tells the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.  Here are five things to know about the officer.

1. Simmonds was wounded during the gun battle with the Boston bombers.

On April 19, 2013, four days after the bombing that killed three people and injured several hundred others, police were involved in a shootout with the perpetrators, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

This undated official portrait released by the Boston Police Department shows policer officer Dennis Simmonds, who died on April 10, 2014. (Boston Police Department via AP)
This undated official portrait released by the Boston Police Department shows policer officer Dennis Simmonds, who died on April 10, 2014. (Boston Police Department via AP)

Simmonds was one of the first officers on the scene of the shootout, and suffered a serious head injury in a blast caused by homemade bombs the Tsarnaev brothers threw at police during the encounter.

Tamerlan was killed during the incident and Dzhokhar was taken into custody. 

2. Simmonds died a year later as a result of his injuries.

On April 10, 2014, Simmonds died of a brain aneurysm while working out at the Boston Police Academy gym, according to ODMP. He was 28 and had served with the Boston Police Department for six years.

Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association president Patrick M. Rose, who transported the injured Simmonds away from the scene of the Tsarnaev gun battle, would later describe the officer as “a bright, shining star” who “made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Simmonds’ family suspected the death was related to the injuries he sustained in the shootout, and sought official acknowledgement of the officer’s sacrifice as the fifth victim of the terror attack. 

3. In 2015, Simmonds’ family was granted a line-of-duty death benefit.

The Massachusetts State Retirement Board recognized Simmonds’ death as a LODD in May 2015 and awarded his family a one-time death benefit.

“We absolutely want him to be recognized as the fifth victim,” the officer’s younger sister, Nicole, told WBZ. “It’s now etched in stone, it’s etched in paper that my brother is recognized as a hero among those key decision makers.”

A state medical panel’s report, which stated “[Simmonds’] injuries were persistent after the episode involving the gun battle between police and Boston Marathon bombers,” factored into the decision.

Nick Favorito, executive director of the Massachusetts State Retirement Board, told the Boston Globe at the time that “the board wanted to acknowledge the officer’s efforts on that night of April 19, 2013.”

According to the Associated Press, Simmonds’ name was also added to a memorial that honors Massachusetts cops who have died in the line of duty.

4. ‘Patriots Day’ does not include Simmonds.

The officer is not included in the film’s story or in a “memorial loop” at the end of the movie that features the other four people killed in the attack, including Simmonds’ brother in blue, MIT Officer Sean Collier. 

Massachusetts lawmaker and former sergeant Timothy Whelan is among those pushing for the filmmakers to correct their mistake. “DJ Simmonds, and his response in the face of danger which ultimately cost him his life, represents the words BOSTON STRONG we have come to adopt as a sign of our community pride and resilience,” he wrote in a December Facebook post.

The city’s mayor, the Boston PD, and the aforementioned Boston NAACP and Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers are among those who have also voiced their support to correct the film’s oversight.

"While the film has completed production, there are still opportunities for the producers and studio to acknowledge the life and sacrifice of Officer Simmonds," the NAACP and Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers said in a joint statement. "In honoring his life and sacrifice the film will then honor all of the members of the Boston Police Department, Black and White, who put their lives on the line."

Simmonds’ father, Dennis R. Simmonds, told the AP that the filmmakers could also do more to recognize all the officers who responded that night.

5. The filmmakers cited the movie’s runtime as the reason behind the omission.

A production spokesperson for “Patriots Day” said in a December statement that the film’s two-hour runtime "limits the number of individual stories you are able to tell."

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