Sun, Mar 23, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Probes clear FBI agent in shooting of Chechen man

Reuters, WASHINGTON and ORLANDO, Florida

Investigators have concluded that a US FBI agent should be cleared of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a Chechen immigrant while he was being questioned about his ties to one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, a US federal law enforcement official said on Friday.

The agent shot and killed 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev in May last year after Todashev suddenly attacked and injured the US agent during an interrogation at his Orlando apartment, the FBI said.

The US law enforcement official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the release on Tuesday of a review of the incident by a Florida prosecutor.

The report prepared by a US team of investigators at the office of Orlando State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton recommends clearing the FBI agent, the official said.

A separate unpublished FBI report has also concluded the agent was justified in using deadly force, the official said.

A statement from Ashton’s office on Friday said no “final decision” had been made in his investigation and that he was expected to review the findings this weekend.

Todashev was an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of two Chechen brothers who prosecutors say carried out the Boston bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260.

He was shot and killed while being questioned about his suspected involvement in a triple murder in 2011 that law enforcement officials suspected was linked to him and Tsarnaev.

The FBI account has been questioned by Todashev’s father, who has said his son was unarmed when he was shot.

A Muslim civil liberties group in Florida, the Tampa-based branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has called for a detailed review of the shooting.

Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations, expressed concern about the conclusions of the investigations.

“The [US] Department of Justice’s and the State Attorney’s investigations relied on evidence gathered by the FBI and the only person who can contradict first-hand their narrative is dead,” Shibly said in a statement.

He also said there is a pattern of mistreatment of Todashev’s friends after the shooting.

The group said US immigration officials were refusing to allow a friend of Todashev, Khusen Taramov, and his two brothers to return to the US from Russia.

Taramov told reporters after the shooting that he had accompanied Todashev to his apartment before the FBI interview on the night he was killed.

Taramov and his brothers are all permanent US residents, Shibly said.

Another Todashev friend, Tatiana Gruzdeva, was deported after being questioned by immigration officers and FBI agents, Shibly said.

Shibly said his group hired a homicide investigator to conduct an independent review of Todashev’s killing last year.

The investigator concluded that Todashev was shot seven times and received a major wound, possibly a bullet, to the back of the head.

He also found blood splatter and other physical damage at the scene, which pointed to Todashev being shot while he was lying on the ground, Shibly said.

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