Father of man killed by FBI agent says he may have been provoked
MOSCOW (CNN) — The father of a 27-year-old man shot dead by an FBI agent said Thursday that accounts he has heard about the killing make no sense.
Ibragim Todashev was fatally shot early May 22 during questioning about a 2011 triple homicide in Waltham, Massachusetts, as well as his relationship with deceased Boston Marathon bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Todashev admitted to his direct role in slashing three people’s throats in Waltham and said Tsarnaev was involved as well, a federal law enforcement official told CNN.
Todashev was killed while being interviewed in the kitchen of his Orlando, Florida, home.
“One of the versions was that he went to the kitchen, took a knife and attacked them,” Abdulbaki Todashev told reporters in Moscow about his son. “Another version was that he freaked out and wanted to hit (a) police officer and take his gun. It’s absurd. There were four or five armed, well-trained people from FBI or police. Couldn’t they handle my son?”
The father said that Todashev could have posed no threat: he had recently undergone leg surgery and needed crutches to walk.
Photographs of his son’s body show that he was shot seven times, once to the head, said Abdulbaki Todashev.
“They were torturing the man for eight hours. There was no lawyer, no witnesses, nobody. Until we get the results of the official investigation, we can only guess what was going on there.”
The elder Todashev suggested his son may have been provoked. “If you question someone for eight hours, you can provoke him into anything,” he said.
The father said he had spent much of his life raising his 12 children, and that he knew Ibragim well. “I know what he is capable and not capable of. My son could not have done this.”
A U.S. government official briefed on the investigation said Thursday that Todashev had agreed to talk to authorities,and noted that he was never arrested or handcuffed.
A samurai sword was in the room when Todashev sat down with two Massachusetts State Police detectives and a Boston-based FBI agent, but it was moved out of his reach.
After one of the detectives left the room, the other noticed Todashev was acting odd and he texted that sense to the FBI agent with him — the U.S. official told CNN. Those two law enforcement officials were the only ones with Todashev, according to this account.
Suddenly, Todashev knocked over a table — knocking the FBI agent back into a wall — and came at him with some sort of “long-handled object” that he’d grabbed from behind him, according to the official.
The agent fired a few rounds, but Todashev kept on coming, the official said. He finally stopped after yet more gunshots.
“It all happened in less than a minute,” said the U.S. official.
This detailed account — as well as the comments from the elder Todashev — come a day after CNN affiliate WESH and the Washington Post, citing unidentified sources, reported Todashev was unarmed when he was shot.
That led the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to call Wednesday for an investigation into the death of the Muslim man.
“Our call for an independent investigation of this disturbing incident is not just about the victim and his family, but is also about constitutional rights and the rule of law,” said CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Hassan Shibly.
But the U.S. government official briefed on the investigation rebuffed the idea that Todashev wasn’t a threat — noting, for instance, that he could have taken the agent’s gun.
“He was armed. Maybe it wasn’t a weapon, but he had a long object,” the official said. And because of Todashev’s martial arts expertise, “he was a weapon himself.”
An FBI spokesman earlier said the agent sustained “non-life-threatening injuries” in the incident. The U.S. official elaborated that the agent received treatment for lacerations.
The FBI opened an investigation into the incident after the killing — standard procedure in any shooting that involves an agent.
“While this internal review process is occurring, we cannot comment regarding investigative details,” FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said Wednesday.
“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. The review process is thorough and objective and conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances.”
Todashev and Tsarnaev had become acquainted at a mixed martial arts center near Boston, said a source who was briefed on the bombing investigation.
Todashev had Tsarnaev’s phone number in his cell phone, the source said.
Todashev was from the Chechnya region, as were Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the source said. Dzhokhar, Tamerlan’s brother, is a suspect in the April bombings in Boston.