We reported on the death of Igragim Todashev at the hands of FBI agents last week. Todashev was being questioned about his role in a triple murder believed to have involved the dead Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarneav when he was shot dead. Initial reports indicated that Todashev was armed with a knife. Now officials have revealed that Todashev was unarmed when he was killed. From the Washington Post:
"The FBI takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents and as such we have an effective, time-tested process for addressing them internally," FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said in a statement Wednesday. "The review process is thorough and objective and conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances."
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Wednesday called for an independent investigation by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Officials said the division and local prosecutors are already reviewing the case.
At the time of the shooting, Todashev was being interviewed about his possible connection to a triple murder in Waltham, Mass., on Sept. 11, 2011. Law enforcement officials said he had acknowledged involvement in the murders and had implicated Tsarnaev. Officials said Todashev was not suspected of involvement in the April 15 Boston bombing.
Todashev's father held a press conference yesterday and accused the FBI of murdering his son execution style:
At a press conference in Moscow, Abdul-Baki Todashev said U.S. agents had killed his son "execution-style." Carrying photographs purportedly showing his son's corpse and its wounds, Todashev said authorities had murdered him.
"I have 16 photographs," he said. "I just would like to say that looking at these photos is like being in a movie. I only saw things like that in movies: Shooting a person, and then the kill shot. Six shots in the body, one of them in the head."
"I want justice. I want an investigation," he added. "They come to your house like bandits, and they shoot you."
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. The facts known to the public are worrisome enough that an independent inquiry is justified. In addition, this case illustrates why the FBI ought to be required to record all of its interrogations, using video when possible and at least audio in all circumstances.
And from the 2nd piece:
A few thoughts in conclusion. It's important to bear in mind how little we know for sure at this point. It could be that the FBI agent and detective involved in the shooting acted honorably and responsibly. It's also possible that this man was needlessly and wrongfully killed. The need to resolve that uncertainty, insofar as it is possible, is why as independent an investigation as possible is needed. It also seems clear to me that the FBI should assign someone trustworthy to set forth what it knows to be true on the record, in order to reduce misinformation as much as possible.
Bloody Elbow will continue to follow this story as it develops.