An Islamic group Wednesday called for a federal civil-rights investigation of last week’s fatal shooting of an Orlando man by an FBI agent investigating his connection to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
May 29, 2013 By Henry Pierson Curtis and Amy Pavuk Article from Orlando Sentinel
And the Tampa director of that group said not only was 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev unarmed when he was shot by the agent May 22, he was hit seven times, including once in the head.
Initial reports in the wake of the shooting said Todashev might have been armed with a knife when, during questioning in an Orlando condo, he lunged toward the agent, who shot him.
But the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Florida chapter on Wednesday cited unnamed sources within the FBI as saying Todashev was not armed at the time of the shooting.
“We did confirm today with sources within the FBI that he was unarmed,” CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Hassan Shibly told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday afternoon. Later, Shibly told reporters that CAIR has an “intermediary” who said the FBI told him Todashev was unarmed. Shibly did not identify the intermediary.
At a news conference Wednesday evening, Shibly showed what he said were photos of Todashev’s body after the shooting. The photos were taken at an Orlando funeral home after the Orange-Osceola County Medical Examiner’s office released the body to Todashev’s next of kin, he said.
The photographer was Khusen Taramov — a friend of Todashev’s who lives in Kissimmee — and photos show at least a dozen wounds, although some may have been exit wounds, Shibly said.
Agent Dave Couvertier, FBI spokesman in Central Florida, would not comment Wednesday on the CAIR statements. A spokeswoman from the FBI’s Boston division also would not discuss the report.
CAIR’s call for an independent investigation follows conflicting accounts by anonymous sources of the shooting — which happened while Todashev, a Chechen-born Muslim, was being questioned by FBI and Massachusetts State Police investigators about his connection to one of the Boston bombing suspects and his possible role in a triple killing near Boston.
Though early accounts from unnamed federal law-enforcement sources claimed Todashev might have been armed with a knife, the latest version, released by a Fox affiliate in Boston, reported that Todashev lunged with a sword at the agent.
Shibly said there was a sword at the apartment, but it was mounted on the wall, ornamental and had a dull blade and a broken handle.
The shooting remains under investigation. The FBI has not released any official findings and would not comment on the case. Couvertier earlier told the Sentinel that Todashev initiated a “violent confrontation” during questioning.
CAIR officials called the news conference, which included Todashev’s widow, Reniya Manukyan, as well as Taramov, the friend who drove Todashev to the meeting with the FBI last week.
“We want to know why it happened. … We want to know what is the truth,” Manukyan said.
Todashev’s friends and fellow Chechens living in Central Florida said the FBI had been following Todashev since just after the April 15 Boston bombings and had questioned him several times on a range of topics, but they were not aware of the possible homicide allegations.
While living near Boston several years ago, Todashev met Tamerlan Tsarnaev through the area’s small Chechen community and their mutual interest in mixed martial arts, his friends told the Sentinel.
On the night he was shot, Todashev was “primarily” being questioned about a Sept. 11, 2011, triple slaying in Waltham, Mass., federal law-enforcement sources told the Tribune’s Washington bureau last week. Officials suspected Todashev and Tsarnaev, the older of the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers, may have had a role in cutting the throats of the three men in Waltham.
Todashev’s widow said Wednesday that she has records proving her husband was with her in Atlanta on Sept. 11, 2011, so he could not have been in Massachusetts on the day of the triple killing. Manukyan was married to Todashev for about three years, she said.
Myfoxboston.com reported Wednesday that Todashev was asked to write a confession about his role in the triple homicide, and after he began writing, he flipped a table over, knocking the FBI agent into a wall. Then Todashev began waving a “Banzai ceremonial sword,” the Fox station said.
Late Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that two law-enforcement officials speaking on condition of anonymity said Todashev lunged at the agent and overturned a table, but that he was unarmed.
Little is publicly known about Todashev and how he ended up in Central Florida after living previously in Massachusetts and Georgia.
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