FBI Narrative Of Shooting Of Alleged Tsarnaev Acquaintance Questioned
Last week, we learned that a Florida man who had been an acquaintance of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev while he lived in Boston had been shot to death by FBI agents when some kind of confrontation developed while he was being question. Yesterday, the family of that man started raising questions about what actually happened between Ibragim Todashev and the FBI:
Abdulbaki Todashev, who applied Thursday for a U.S. visa so that he could pick up his son’s body in Orlando, where he died, said he has heard nothing from U.S. officials about the May 22 shooting.
“I want justice. I want an investigation,” he said at a Moscow news conference. “They come to your house like bandits, and they shoot you.”
Ibragim Todashev, 27, was an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the alleged planner of the Boston bombing. Todashev had moved to Florida from Massachusetts two years ago, his father said. He said FBI officials questioned his son on three occasions this spring.
The first time, the father said, they asked him about the bombing. The second time, the father said, they asked him about a triple murder in Waltham, Mass., that police suspect Tsarnaev may have carried out. The third interview, which took place at Todashev’s home and included Massachusetts state troopers, ended with his death, the father said.
Although earlier accounts of the incident suggested that Todashev had a weapon, two law enforcement officials told The Washington Post on Wednesday that he was not armed. His father said his son was shot seven times. The FBI has said that Todashev attacked an agent, just moments after confessing to his part in the Waltham slayings.
On Thursday, the medical examiner’s office in Orange County, Fla., referred all calls to the FBI. The bureau has said that an FBI review team is investigating the matter and may not conclude its probe for several months.
The elder Todashev displayed photographs of his son’s body — apparently the same pictures as those shown by participants in a Florida news conference Wednesday evening — that he said show six shots to the body and a “control” shot to the back of the head.
“This is proof of coldblooded murder,” said Maxim Shevchenko, a journalist and member of Russia’s presidential human rights council who organized Thursday’s news conference.
It was an “extrajudicial execution,” said Zaurbek Sadakhanov, a Chechen lawyer who was present. “Why was he interrogated three times without a lawyer? Why no recording? Why seven shots? And why should I believe their version? Why do American policemen believe they can do whatever they want?”
Todashev’s father said his son had been planning to return to Chechnya last Friday, though he had apparently canceled his tickets before he was killed. The father suggested that the FBI didn’t want his son to return to Russia.
Conor Friedersdorf has a very good summary of the news that has come out about this case over the past week, and the manner in which the original story that we heard early last week isn’t adding up, and concludes with this:
It is difficult to understand how, having shot the man dead, the multiple law enforcement personnel on scene could’ve gotten the details wrong. Discrepancies can creep into an account of a stressful situation. But how can there possibly be confusion about whether the suspect was a) wielding a knife, per the original story; b) unarmed, per subsequent versions; c) or lunging with or toward a samurai sword? We’re supposed to believe that multiple law enforcement personnel went to a man’s apartment, confirmed via his own confession that he participated in a triple murder with an alleged terrorist, and still left him within reach of a samurai sword? And that, after he lunged toward one agent with the sword, or else lunged toward the sword, or an officer’s gun, or something, there was so much confusion that it was reported for days that the suspect attacked with a knife? Come on. Law enforcement couldn’t get its story straight.
At best, an incompetently handled suspect was given access to a weapon so dangerous it justified using deadly force in response. Perhaps that’s all this is. Or perhaps it will turn out that Todashev was wrongfully killed.
At the very least, it would seem to be something worth investigating.