FBI completes probe of Chechen man shot during questioning in Florida

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 10, 2014 1:57 PM
FBI completes probe of Chechen man shot during questioning in Florida

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The FBI has concluded its investigation into the shooting of a Chechen immigrant who was killed while being questioned about his ties to one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, an official said on Friday.

Ibragim Todashev, 27, was shot during interrogation on May 22. He was an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of two Chechen brothers who prosecutors say carried out the Boston bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260 on April 15. Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police days later.

The FBI has made little official comment about Todashev's shooting. It has said he was killed after he suddenly attacked an agent during an interrogation at his Orlando apartment.

The FBI account has been openly questioned by Todashev's father, who has said his son was unarmed when he was shot. A Muslim civil liberties group in Florida, the Tampa-based branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has called for a detailed review of the shooting.

FBI spokesman Christopher Allen said the agency had turned over its findings to the U.S. Department of Justice. These would be reviewed in February by a panel made up of FBI and Department of Justice members which would determine whether the shooting complied with the department's deadly force policy.

State prosecutors are also investigating the incident, according to a spokeswoman for State Attorney Jeff Ashton.

Todashev was killed during what he thought was to be the last of several voluntary interviews with agents from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Todashev's friend Khusen Tamarov, 22, told Reuters at the time that Todashev appeared on the FBI's radar soon after Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother were identified as the bombing suspects, and cell phone records connected the men.

Tamarov told Reuters that Todashev was trailed for several weeks by agents and questioned repeatedly by phone and in face-to-face interviews which lasted as long as five hours.

Hassam Shiply, executive director of the Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the FBI also was questioning Todashev about his and Tsarnaev's possible involvement in an unsolved 2011 triple homicide in a Boston suburb that investigators believe was drug-related.

Shiply said the group hired a homicide investigator to conduct an independent review of Todashev's killing.

The investigator concluded that Todashev was shot seven times and received a major wound, possibly a bullet, to the back of the head. He also found blood splatter and other physical damage at the scene which pointed to Todashev being shot while he was lying on the ground, Shibly said.

The FBI has yet to release the autopsy report which could help confirm the details of the shooting, he said.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Stephen Powell)