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Group calls for review of Todashev shooting

A Muslim civil liberties organization is urging a Florida prosecutor to reexamine the FBI’s fatal shooting last year of a friend of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying the prosecutor failed to scrutinize records of the officers at the scene.

“We are extremely disappointed that your office failed to investigate the background of the FBI agent and the other officers involved,” Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida, wrote to prosecutor Jeffrey Ashton in a letter on May 22, the anniversary of the death of Ibragim Todashev.

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“The fact that you failed to do so makes it absolutely clear your report is neither complete nor reliable,” the letter said.

Ashton and the US Department of Justice ruled in March that the agent shot Todashev in self-defense after the 27-year-old mixed-martial arts fighter allegedly attacked him and Massachusetts State Trooper Curtis Cinelli. But Ashton admitted through a spokesman this week that he did not examine the agent’s record during his time on the Oakland police force from 2000 to 2004.

According to court and police records, the agent, Aaron McFarlane, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a police corruption trial and was the subject of two police brutality lawsuits and four internal affairs investigations until he retired at age 31, apparently for medical reasons. Court records show McFarlane denied any wrongdoing. He receives a pension exceeding $52,000 a year, which the city of Oakland is investigating.

The FBI issued a statement Friday saying the agent’s use of deadly force was clearly justified.

“As the extensive documentation in two independent reports clearly indicate, each of the witnesses’ accounts from the agencies involved in the matter were the same,” said Kieran Ramsey, assistant special agent in charge in Boston. “There is absolutely no dispute that law enforcement officers were violently attacked by Mr. Todashev and subsequently responded with justifiable force.”

McFarlane, Cinelli, and Trooper Joel Gagne were in Todashev’s Orlando apartment that night in May 2013 to question him about a 2011 triple homicide in Waltham and his connection to Tsarnaev, who died last year after a confrontation with police. The agent and troopers said Todashev had confessed on tape to helping Tsarnaev kill the three men in Waltham, when he attacked the agent and trooper.

Todashev also had a criminal record, including an arrest earlier that month for badly beating a man in a fight about a parking space.

Ashton’s report, initially hailed as the only independent review of the shooting, relied on forensic evidence and the accounts of the only witnesses, McFarlane and Cinelli, among other records.

Maria Sacchetti can be reached at
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