June 4, 2013
A US Islamic rights group has filed a formal complaint with the US Department of Justice over shooting death a 27-year-old Chechen man while he was being questioned by federal authorities about his ties to a suspect in the Boston Marathon bomb attack.
In the complaint, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) calls on the Justice Department to launch “an independent, thorough and transparent investigation” into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ibragim Todashev, who was shot by an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Orlando on May 22 while being questioned about his links to Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
“Based on several of the reports, it seems unlikely that the agents were justified in using deadly force against a single unarmed suspect,” CAIR’s civil rights director, Thania Diaz Clevenger, said in the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by RIA Novosti.
“The circumstances surrounding the shooting are at the very least alarming.”
Hours after the shooting media reports quoting law enforcement officials said Todashev was being interviewed by the FBI about a possible connection to a Sept. 11, 2001 triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts. The officials said Todashev had acknowledged his involvement in the murders and had also implicated Tsarnaev.
Both Todashev and Tsarnaev moved to the United States from the former Soviet Union and both men had ethnic and family roots in the volatile southern Russian republic of Chechnya. Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police several days after the April 15 Boston Marathon twin bomb attack.
Accounts from law enforcement officials published by US media in the immediate aftermath of the shooting were contradictory, with some saying Todashev was armed with a knife and others saying he attempted to grab an FBI agent’s gun.
However on Wednesday, the Washington Post, quoting an unnamed law enforcement official, reported that Todashev was not holding a gun or a knife when he was shot seven times by the FBI agent.
The complaint to the Justice Department, which CAIR said it filed over the weekend, states that Todashev’s final questioning was preceded by three similar interrogations “at FBI headquarters” and other contact with authorities over the course of five weeks.
“One of these encounters included six law enforcement agents approaching Mr. Todashev with guns drawn and pushing him to the ground,” Diaz Clevenger wrote in the complaint.
Meanwhile, a US military judge this week ruled that US Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan can represent himself in his court martial on charges of murdering 13 people in a 2009 rampage shooting at the Ft. Hood military base in Texas.
A lawyer representing victims in the shooting in a negligence lawsuit against the US government said Hasan would be “making a mockery” of the American judicial system if he uses the trial to promote extremist Islamist ideology, The Associated Press reported.