The makers of "Patriots Day" are taking heat for failing to mention late Boston police officer Dennis "D.J." Simmonds in the film about the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath.
Simmonds didn't die in the marathon bombing, but his death a year later of a brain aneurysm has officially been attributed to a head injury he suffered when brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonated an explosive device during the shootout in Watertown days after the April 2013 blast. He was 28. His name is engraved on the memorial to fallen law enforcement officers at the Massachusetts State House and his family received line-of-duty benefits from the state.
"No one reached out to us at all. No one from the production team," Simmonds' mother, Roxanne Simmonds, told the Boston Herald on Sunday. "I view that as insulting, that they wouldn't even reach out and ask us about his story."
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The family declined further comment Monday.
One state lawmaker is calling on director Peter Berg to include recognition of Simmonds in the movie, set for a limited release in Boston Wednesday and in theaters nationwide January 13.
"Officer Simmonds' brave and selfless service that dangerous night in Watertown is representative of the great young women and men who answered the call to capture two wanted terrorists," said State Rep. Timothy Whelan of Brewster, himself a former state police sergeant. "The injuries DJ sustained that evening directly led to his tragic loss one year later and I grieve with his family for their loss."
Whelan said Berg has an opportunity "to right a wrong" by recognizing Simmonds.
Boston Police Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross took the criticism of the movie a step further, saying it failed to include "anyone of color," and the filmmakers didn't speak to any of the black commanders or officers involved in the investigation.
"They forgot Dennis and anyone of color," Gross said in a Facebook post on Sunday. "I guess (Boston police superintendents) Randall Halstead and Lisa holmes never existed. No black Commanders were ever talked to even though they commanded and worked with Officers of all nationalities that actually did the work that night. 60 Officers and 10 great Lieutenants and Sergeants were never talked to. To leave Dennis Simmonds out and have Walberg's [sic] character be based in part on a certain individual that Martin Luther King Jr would NOT be proud of, is a disgrace!!!!"
Larry Ellison with the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers said he's disappointed in the film.
"I'm not angry because I don't think DJ would want us to be angry about this," said Ellison. "I think he would want us to sit back and figure out how we can move forward."
A spokeswoman for the film told necn that the number of stories that could be told in the movie were limited by the 2-hour run time, but that the film is dedicated to "everyone involved."
Both Whalen and Ellison agree that there is a way to fix the issue.
"Right a wrong and give recognition of Officer Simmond's sacrifice, which will ultimately give his grieving family some closure," Whalen said.
"There's always room to go back and correct it," Ellison said.
"Patriots Day" received mostly positive reviews when it premiered in Boston last week, including from some bombing survivors and law enforcement officials who attended.
"I thought they nailed it," former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said. "The emotion of that week and they squeezed an enormous amount of detail into the process so I was very happy with it."