Three years before he was shot and killed by an FBI agent at an Orlando apartment while being questioned about the Boston Marathon suspects and a triple murder in Waltham, Ibragim Todashev admitted to instigating a brawl in Downtown Crossing, revealing a frightening temper, according to court documents and the man he fought.
On a Thursday afternoon in February 2011, Many, a 28-year-old father from Brighton, was riding with his son’s mother; his sister was behind the wheel of the red Mazda. The three were driving through Downtown Crossing, trying to get home to celebrate Many’s son’s seventh birthday. As the car idled at a traffic light in front of Felt, a nightclub on Washington Street, a gray food delivery van suddenly pulled up close behind the Mazda, Many recalled in an interview Wednesday. Many asked to be identified only by his nickname because he wants to maintain his privacy.
Behind the wheel of the truck was a young, dark-haired man so eager to squeeze past them in the tight right lane that he seemed to be trying to pull the van up on the sidewalk.
Many’s sister honked her horn lightly, trying to get him to back off, and drove ahead of the truck when the light turned green.
“He began to follow,” Many recalled. “He was honking the horn real hard, holding down the horn. He was acting real aggressive. I was just thinking, ‘What the hell is wrong with this guy?’ I thought he was on something.”
Terrified, Many’s sister turned onto Tremont Street, trying to lose the driver, who continued his pursuit. She began to turn left on Avery Street, in front of AMC Loews Boston Common, when the van screeched ahead of her from the right lane, trying to cut her off.
Instead, Many recalled, the driver hit a blue Pontiac, totaling the car and damaging the front end of his own gray van.
Many said he got out the car to help the driver of the Pontiac, an elderly man who looked shaken and scared.
The driver of the van, later identified as Todashev, got out of his vehicle, a cigarette dangling from his mouth.
“He starts blowing smoke in my face,” Many said. “He gets real close to me. He swears and I swear back.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Many asked him.
“What the hell is wrong with me?” Todashev replied in a thick accent. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Many’s sister and his son’s mother pleaded with Many to back off. “‘It’s your son’s birthday,’” his sister told him. “‘Don’t get in a fight ... Let’s just wait for the police to get here.’”
Many said he tried to walk away, but Todashev yelled “[Expletive] you and your son.”
Furious, Many yelled back, though he could not recall what he said.
According to the police report of the incident, Todashev said, “ ‘You say something about my mother, I will kill you.’”
“I don’t’ remember saying something about his mother,” Many said. “To be honest, I probably did.”
Then, Many said, Todashev rushed him and grabbed him by the shirt collar. Afraid of what Todashev might do next, Many said he hit him. Though Todashev, at 5 foot 10, was taller, Many said he was able to subdue him, placing him in a chokehold as Todashev tried to kick him and his sister wept, begging him to let him go.
“Don’t fight! Don’t fight!” she kept crying. His son’s mother also wept, kicking at Todashev.
“I had to defend myself,” Many said.
When the police arrived, he said he finally let him go. Todashev kept struggling as police tried to handcuff him.
Witnesses later told the officers that Todashev was the aggressor, according to a Boston police report.
Todashev admitted to sufficient facts in November 2010 on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and reckless driving. Admission to sufficient facts is a plea that allows a defendant to avoid a conviction while at the same time conceding there is enough evidence for a guilty finding.
The resisting arrest charge was dismissed. The other two charges were continued without a finding and dismissed after nine months. Todashev’s lawyer at the time, Anthony Rossi, a Chelsea defense attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Many said he was shocked to learn the man he fought had ties to the brothers accused of orchestrating the Boston Marathon bombings.
“I can’t believe that was him,” he said. “Is it really him?”
Many said he was also surprised to learn he subdued a man described as having a martial arts background. Before Todashev moved to Florida, he lived in the Boston area and was brought to an Allston gym where Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, trained as a boxer. Todashev was a mixed martial arts athlete.
“I’m guessing he wasn’t [a fighter at the time] because I don’t know anything,” Many said. “I’ve never trained in my life.”Maria Cramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org