A Florida state prosecutor and the Justice Department both announced today that they will not bring charges against an FBI agent involved in the controversial shooting of a man tied to one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers.
Ibragim Todashev was killed in Orlando last May during an interview with an FBI and other law enforcement officials, who were looking into a connection between Todashev, alleged Boston bomber Tamerlane Tsarnaev and an unsolved triple murder in Massachusetts two years earlier.
According to the findings Florida State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton disclosed today, the actions of the FBI “were justified in self-defense and in defense of another.”
After more than four hours of questioning at Todashev’s home on May 22, 2013, law enforcement officials had Todashev sit down to pen a written statement , after which he expected to be arrested, Ashton said in a letter to FBI director James Comey explaining his decision. Other investigative documents released today include a report that says Todashev had admitted he was “involved” in the 2011 triple murder.
“Okay, I’m telling you I was involved in it, okay, I, I, had no idea [redacted] gonna kill anyone,” the report said, attributing the words to Todashev shortly before his death.
But when the law enforcement officials weren’t looking, a coffee table “suddenly [was] propelled into the air,” and the FBI agent was knocked to the floor with “blood pouring” from his head, according to Ashton. Todashev then ran into his kitchen, grabbed “a long pole of some sort,” raised it as if it were javelin, and “advance[d]” toward a Massachusetts State Police officer, Ashton said.
The FBI agent fired three to four shots, but Todashev was still able to “lunge” toward officers, at which point the FBI agent fired more shots, killing Todashev, Ashton said. An autopsy report, also released today, showed Todashev was shot a total of seven times, including once in the head.
Todashev was described as a “skilled” martial arts fighter, according to Ashton.
“[…Todashev] was, at his core, a fearless fighter,” Ashton writes. “Regardless of how beaten down he was, he simply didn’t have any quit in him. Perhaps on this occasion, he simply reverted to that basic aspect of his personality.
“My conclusion, based upon the facts presented to me in this investigation, is that the actions of the Special Agent of the FBI were justified in self-defense and in defense of another,” Ashton said.
Todashev had met with law enforcement several times before the fateful day last May, but for their last encounter he insisted upon meeting then at his home, according to Ashton.
The matter has been controversial due to the unusual circumstances surrounding Todashev’s death. Both the state of Florida and the FBI launched separate reviews.
The FBI concluded its review of the case at the end of last year, finding that the killing was justified and the agent involved committed no wrongdoing, a Justice Department official said. Those findings were turned over to the Justice Department, which has been looking into whether any federal civil rights violations were implicated in the matter.
In a report released today mirroring Ashton’s findings, the Justice Department said it “has determined that the evidence does not reveal a violation of the applicable federal criminal civil rights statutes.”
“[I]t was reasonable for the injured Agent to believe that it was necessary to shoot in order to halt the immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm,” the department concluded.
Todashev, a 27-year-old Chechen, was an associate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two men prosecutors say detonated two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last April, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others.
Days after Todashev’s death, his father claimed his boy had been shot “execution-style” by FBI agents, who he called “bandits.”
The father, Abdul-Baki Todashev, said he believed the FBI killed his son because “they wanted to get rid of him, to shut him up.”
Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police days after the April 15, 2013 blasts. His little brother and alleged co-conspirator, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the bombing.