BOSTON (CBS) – Officer Dennis “DJ” Simmonds was one of the first responders the night the Tsarnaev brothers engaged in a shootout with police and tossed homemade bombs in Watertown, and in his direction.
His younger sister Nicole says he was knocked to the ground sustaining head injuries he never fully recovered from. On Thursday, the state retirement board recognized that Simmonds died in the line of duty, collapsing and dying a year later from injuries sustained on the job. His family was awarded $150,000 as a one time line-of-duty benefit.
“We absolutely want him to be recognized as the fifth victim,” said Nicole Simmonds. “It’s now etched in stone, it’s etched in paper that my brother is recognized as a hero among those key decision makers.”
The board stopped short of calling Simmonds the fifth marathon bombing victim, though the report they received from a state medical panel found the injuries were consistent with what happened during the Watertown battle.
Simmonds’ struggle that night was witnessed by fellow officer Patrick Rose, who offered gratitude to the board. “I drove Dennis out of Watertown, I believe his injuries were sustained that evening,” said Rose, the head of the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association.
For the family it’s not about the money but confirmation of what they’ve long suspected about his injuries. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh hopes it brings comfort. “It doesn’t bring him back, but I hope it gives them peace and a little bit of happiness in their heart knowing he died doing the job he loved,” Walsh said.