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.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. legion says:

    It seems pretty clear (to me, at least) that one of the cops in that room screwed up big time and everyone else is trying to cover for him. That’s the only explanation I can think of.

  2. Ben says:

    This was either an execution, or some of the most blazingly incompetent police work I’ve ever heard of. Either way, in a just world, there would be a lot of firings and some sort of charges. But since law enforcement is basically never held accountable for their screw-ups/killings, nothing will happen.

  3. Franklin says:

    @legion: I would at least agree that’s a good possibility. And we probably could have learned more if we had managed to leave him alive.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    At the very least, it would seem to be something worth investigating.

    I agree. It shouldn’t have taken more than 3 shots (2 to the body, 1 to the head) to remove this Islamist from the gene pool.

  5. beth says:

    @legion: I tend to agree too that someone is hiding something. And what’s with the investigation taking “several months”? There were only five or six people in the room, how long can it take to question them all? I guess they’re hoping that if they draw out the process people will forget about it and move on to the next shiny object.

  6. CSK says:


    I wonder why it’s taking so long to come up with a good cover story? Because not everyone’s on board? All the “information” we have is from anonymous sources, and it’s all contradictory. We don’t even know how many were present, or whether there was one FBI agent or two.

  7. EddieInCA says:

    Another coverup by the evil, Communist, Marxist, Kenyan-born, Socialist, Anti-American, secret Muslim sympathizer in Chief.


  8. mantis says:

    Maybe we should try ignoring information from anonymous sources? Looking at Friedersdorf’s summary, nearly every single detail came from an anonymous source. “Law enforcement officials,” “FBI sources,” “officials briefed on the investigation,” and on and on. Here is the only official statement from the FBI:

    The FBI is currently reviewing a shooting incident involving an FBI special agent. Based on preliminary information, the incident occurred in Orlando, Florida during the early morning hours of May 22, 2013. The agent, two Massachusetts State Police troopers, and other law enforcement personnel were interviewing an individual in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing investigation when a violent confrontation was initiated by the individual. During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life threatening injuries.

    There was also one named quote from the Tampa FBI spokesman Dave Couvertier, that mirrors the official statement. That’s it. Every other detail came from anonymous sources. That’s the real problem here. I don’t know what happened in that room, but I suspect all this confusion comes from the fact that journalists these days will grant anyone anonymity, warranted or not, and will quote virtually anyone who claims to have any information, regardless of whether there is any likelihood the individual has any involvement in the situation being reported on. Hell, when anonymous sources are shown to be lying, like with the Benghazi emails, the reporters still protect them.

    The FBI may or may not have screwed things up, but this story is another example of a crisis in journalism that is rotting away the profession.

  9. legion says:

    @mantis:Hey, if the papers waited until they had “facts” to report things, they’d never get that third martini in at lunch!

  10. Dazedandconfused says:

    Conner is shocked that he “was given access to a weapon” in his own home….

    Might have been sloppy, but the dude was a practicing MMA fighter and the agents knew it. Does anybody think G-men can handle that with their standard holds? He gets froggy he’s liable to take that gun off you. You got one chance…