Officials: FBI agent will be cleared in shooting of man connected to Boston bombing suspect

A Department of Justice investigation will rule that an FBI agent was justified in using deadly force last May when he shot and killed Ibragim Todashev, a Chechen man connected to the brothers accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing, according to law enforcement officials.

The officials said that an independent investigation set to be released next week will also clear the agent, although the Florida prosecutor overseeing that probe denied Friday that he has come to a final conclusion on the shooting.

After a lengthy interrogation at his Orlando apartment on May 22, Todashev, 27, a mixed martial-arts fighter, attacked the agent with a metal pole after implicating himself in an unsolved 2011 triple murder, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss reports that have not yet been released.

Officials said the male agent, who has not been identified, acted in self-defense. After Todashev charged, the agent shot him once, according to officials, who said Todashev then got up and was shot again several times. It’s not clear what sparked the confrontation.

It also remains unclear whether the agent, who worked out of the FBI’s Boston office, was alone with Todashev during the shooting.


Inbragim Todashev in a booking photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. (Orange County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images)

The FBI cleared the agent in the Todashev shooting several months ago. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is in the final stages of finishing its own investigation and is also expected to clear him, according to individuals familiar with that inquiry.

The separate, independent investigation is being conducted by Florida prosecutor Jeffrey Ashton. In a statement released Friday afternoon, Ashton insisted that his investigation is not yet complete.

“The State Attorney intends to review all materials over the weekend & make his final decision no later than sometime Monday,” Ashton’s office said. “The release of purported information is inaccurate and unfair to Mr. Todashev’s surviving family and the police officers involved in the incident and their families.” Earlier this week, Ashton said he planned a news conference Tuesday.

In an e-mail Friday, the Todashev family attorney, Barry Cohen, referred to The Washington Post’s reporting on the shooting “as amateurishly and irresponsibly leaked information.” He added that the family would respond once both reports were made public.

The FBI had gone to Florida to question Todashev, who was friends with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers. The two men were both Chechen immigrants who had been sparring partners while they both lived in Boston.

According to Todashev’s friends, he last spoke on the phone with Tsarnaev in March, a month before the bombings. Todashev later deleted the call from his phone log, which his friends believe sparked the FBI’s suspicions.

Tsarnaev was killed in the aftermath of the Boston bombings in a confrontation with police as he tried to escape with his younger brother, who ran him over in a car while trying to elude police. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was later apprehended and charged in the bombing.

The shooting — just one month after the marathon bombings — happened on a rainy spring evening at a quiet apartment complex several hundred feet from the entrance to Disney World. Neighbors who heard the gunshots said they assumed the noise was a fireworks show at the theme park.

Initially, law enforcement officials advanced theories about what led to the shooting, giving conflicting statements about how, if at all, Todashev was armed when he allegedly attacked the agent.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Civil Liberties Union on Friday called for the FBI to provide more details.

Law enforcement officials said that before he attacked the agent, Todashev admitted that he and Tsarnaev had participated in a gruesome triple murder on Sept. 11, 2011, in Waltham, Mass.

That slaying, in which three men — including one of Tsarnaev’s best friends — were found with their throats slashed and bodies covered in marijuana, remains unsolved.

Todashev’s friends and family have insisted that he had never previously discussed the Waltham murders with them and could not have been involved.

Since the shooting, several of Todashev’s associates — including his best friend, Khusen Taramov, and his live-in girlfriend, Tatiana Gruzdeva — have said that they have been arrested, deported or barred from the United States.

Gruzdeva was detained by immigration officials and later deported to Russia. Taramov has said he has been barred by federal authorities from reentering the United States.

The FBI has “done an excellent job ensuring that key friends and witnesses to the events of the night are unable to be in the U.S. before the report is released,” said Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR’s Florida chapter. “The DOJ’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.”

Wesley Lowery covers Capitol Hill for The Fix and Post Politics.
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