ACLU urges independent probe of Orlando shooting
Details sought in killing
Almost two weeks after Ibragim Todashev was shot and killed by an FBI agent in Orlando, one of the nation’s leading civil liberties groups has joined calls for the bureau to release details of the shooting, as well as for an independent investigation.
With little information from the government so far, the American Civil Liberties Union said it is monitoring the case.
“We’re concerned, like many other groups, about the way this story has changed,” said Michael German, senior policy counsel in the ACLU’s legislative office. “What we’d like to see is an independent and transparent investigation into what happened in this case.”
Todashev, 27, was shot and killed May 22 after being interviewed for hours in his Orlando apartment by FBI agents. A Chechen man and a friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Todashev had been monitored since the days immediately following the Marathon bombing and had been previously questioned about his relationship with Tsarnaev.
The FBI has refused to officially disclose what led to the shooting or if Todashev had a weapon. However, unnamed law enforcement officials have spread inconsistent versions of what occurred in the apartment through the Globe and other news outlets.
German added that the details being leaked by the FBI to news media via unnamed sources — that Todashev was in the process of confessing to an unsolved 2011 triple murder in Waltham — could unfairly influence public perception of Todashev before the full set of facts come to light.
“Those types of accusations are easy to make,” German said. “The longer that it takes for these details to be released, the more concern develops and the less good faith there is in whatever story eventually comes out from the FBI,” German said.
FBI officials in Tampa and Boston have said they will not be releasing any further information on the shooting. An FBI spokesman in Washington, D.C., did not respond to requests for comment.
Todashev’s friends and family, both in the United States and in Russia, have called for an independent investigation of the shooting, as has the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of the nation’s most prominent Muslim advocacy groups.
On Monday, Russia’s state-owned media, ITAR-TASS, reported that Russian officials have asked the FBI to hand over investigative documents related to Todashev’s shooting, including Todashev’s autopsy report, which remains sealed, as well as documentation related to the firearms used in the shooting.
Elected officials in the United States have remained silent on the shooting. Governor Rick Scott of Florida, Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando, and US Representative Daniel Webster of Florida did not respond to requests for comment.
US Representative William R. Keating, a member of the Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees, said Saturday that he had not received FBI briefings on the shooting, but he urged patience and noted the need for details to remain secret while the FBI completes its investigation.