Netflix docuseries ‘American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing’ has aimed to bring the historic event to its stream. However, like any attempt to tell a complete story in a limited format, it leaves out certain facets that contribute to a fuller understanding of the Boston Marathon Bombing and its aftermath. This article aims to fill in the gaps, shedding light on the details and revealing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s current status.
The Events of the Boston Marathon Bombing
On April 15, 2013, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted two homemade pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. These bombs exploded 14 seconds and 210 yards (190m) apart, killing three people and injuring 281 others. Dzhokhar was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth at the time.
Three days later, the FBI named the Tsarnaev brothers as suspects and released their photos. This led to a manhunt.
During their attempt to evade capture, the brothers killed MIT Police Officer Sean Collier and kidnapped a man, Dun ‘Danny’ Meng, who later managed to escape. Police eventually tracked them to Watertown, Massachusetts, where a gunfight ensued. Tamerlan was killed, and Dzhokhar was injured but managed to escape.
The Netflix Docuseries
Directed by Floyd Russ, the three-episode docuseries particularly focuses on the 100-hour period following the act of terror. While the series manages to capture the essence of the tragedy and the manhunt, it does leave out some aspects due to its three-hour episode format.
The docuseries portrays the Watertown shootout in a certain light but leaves out some conflicting reports. For example, it is largely accepted that Dzhokhar ran over his brother Tamerlan during their escape, but other reports suggest it might have been the police. Such uncertainties are not fully addressed in the series.
The series includes artificial surveillance footage to dramatize the events, which may lead to further confusion. While this is a common practice in documentaries, it can sometimes mislead the audience.
What American Manhunt Leaves Out
Following the FBI’s release of suspect photos, a social media witch hunt led by Reddit mistakenly identified Sunil Tripathi, a Brown University student who had gone missing a month earlier, as a suspect. This led to emotional turmoil for his family and was a significant oversight in the Reddit community’s involvement in the case.
Another aspect not covered in the series is the Rolling Stone cover featuring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Published in August 2013, the cover resulted in a backlash for casting Tsarnaev in a light some felt was too sympathetic. The issue sparked a debate on how media should cover individuals involved in acts of terror.
While ‘American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing’ brings a historical event to Netflix’s global audience, there are important details that were either skipped or not sufficiently covered. Still, some argue it’s ‘the most comprehensive and valuable recorded history of that week’s events.’
Where is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Now?
On April 19, 2013, Dzhokhar was found hiding in a boat and was subsequently arrested. He was charged on April 22, 2013, and convicted on April 8, 2015. Dzhokhar was found guilty on all 30 counts, which included the use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death. Initially sentenced to death, the decision was vacated upon appeal in 2020. However, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence in March 2022.