Tsarnaev friend unarmed when killed, FBI admits. Were civil rights violated? (+video)
Ibragim Todashev, a friend of bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was about to sign a murder confession when he turned a table on an agent, the FBI says. The agent fired as many as 7 shots.
The FBI has confirmed that a friend of slain Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was unarmed and not waving a samurai sword when he was shot and killed last week by an FBI agent in Orlando, Fla., as earlier reports had indicated.
The FBI says Ibragim Todashev, 27, a Chechen immigrant and aspiring martial arts fighter, was about to sign a confession to a 2011 triple murder when he turned a table on an FBI agent, putting the agent in jeopardy. The agent then fired as many as 7 shots, hitting Mr. Todashev at least once in the head.
The agency is investigating the shooting, which has been listed by the Orange County medical examiner as a homicide. As county officials are not elaborating on that determination, the legal implications for the FBI are so far unclear.
But the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, has asked the Department of Justice for a separate investigation into whether the FBI violated Todashev's civil rights.
"We have confirmed through senior sources within the FBI that Ibragim was indeed unarmed when he was shot seven times in the head, what appears to be even in the back of the head," said Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR Florida. "That's very disturbing."
Mr. Shibly told reporters on Wednesday that the group wants "to make sure excessive force was not used against this unarmed individual."
On Thursday, Todashev's father, Abdul-Baki Todashev, showed Russian journalists a series of photos of his son's body that he says suggests he was executed with a shot in the back of the head. Max Seddon of the Associated Press writes that "it was not immediately possible to authenticate the photographs."
Given the high profile and high-stakes nature of the Tsarnaev investigation, as well as international and national security implications, the bureau has a compelling reason to have a thorough and transparent investigation into Todashev's death, terror experts say.
"This is going to be a smorgasbord for every conspiracy [theorist] out there," says Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. "This could be anything from a civil rights violation, to reasonable force, to suicide by cop.