The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the Department of Justice Wednesday to investigate the shooting of an associate of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev by an FBI agent, citing news reports that the man was unarmed when he died.
FBI and Justice Department officials could not immediately comment on whether there will be a separate inquiry into the shooting, but noted that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has access to all evidence being collected in the current FBI investigation.
Ibragim Todashev, 27, was killed in his Orlando apartment last Tuesday during an interview with the FBI. The Globe has reported, citing law enforcement sources, that Todashev was confessing his involvement in an unsolved 2011 triple homicide in Waltham when he attacked the FBI agent with a blade.
Friends and family members have insisted that Todashev did not have access to a weapon.
Citing Wednesday reports by the Orlando NBC affiliate WESH and the Washington Post that Todashev was unarmed when he was shot by the Boston FBI agent, the council, a Muslim advocacy group, called for the inquiry in a press conference in Orlando.
Council spokesman Hassan Shibly said there is reason to believe the use of deadly force was unnecessary, adding that Todashev was shot multiple times and that at least one bullet struck the back of his head.
“We have sources telling us he was unarmed and that this shooting was not justified,” Shibly said in a brief telephone interview with the Globe.
Khusen Taramov, a friend of Todashev’s who is coordinating the return of his body to Russia and who washed his body in the traditional Islamic fashion, said Todashev’s body had multiple gunshot wounds, including one in the head and several near the heart.
Officials at the Orange County medical examiner’s office said they have completed an autopsy and ruled Todashev’s death a homicide and that the office released the body to Todashev’s wife. Officials said they will not release further information until the completion of the FBI investigation.
FBI officials in Florida and Boston have not confirmed the number of shots fired by the agent or whether Todashev was armed when he was killed.
Two Massachusetts State Troopers were at Todashev’s apartment at the time of shooting, but officials have not said whether they were in the same room.
A Justice Department spokesman did not respond to requests for comment about the calls for a separate inquiry, instead forwarding inquiries to the FBI office in Washington, D.C. An FBI spokesman confirmed Wednesday that investigators from the Justice Department are currently working with the FBI’s Shooting Incident Review Group, which is investigating the case.
“The [group] examines all of the information and determines the reasonableness of the application of deadly force in accordance with the Department of Justice’s Deadly Force Policy and the law,” said Paul Bresson, an FBI spokesman, who added the department can not confirm details of the investigation while it remains active.
“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,” he said. “The review process is thorough and objective and conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances.”