Todashev’s father, seeking answers, plans to visit US
MAKHACHKALA, Russia — The father of a Chechen man fatally shot in May by a Boston FBI agent said Saturday that he is planning to travel to the United States, hoping to get answers from authorities about a case that has been shrouded in a thick cloak of secrecy.
Abdulbaki Todashev said he planned to appeal to human rights organizations and to authorities in Florida and Massachusetts to conduct their own investigations into the shooting of Ibragim Todashev in his Orlando, Fla., apartment during an interrogation connected to suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The father said he was frustrated by the bureau’s refusal to allow Florida medical examiners to release an autopsy report completed in early July. Todashev, who believes agents intentionally killed his son, said he feared the FBI would somehow tamper with the results.
“If there is a medical examiner’s report, do they have to report to the FBI?” Todashev said in a telephone interview from Moscow. “Does the FBI have the right to block the father from receiving it? What kind of conclusion will there be if the FBI is in charge of it?”
The FBI has divulged little information about what led the agent to shoot Ibragim Todashev, 27, except to allege that Todashev was shot after he initiated a violent altercation. Most descriptions of what happened have surfaced in conflicting press reports: that Todashev came at the interrogators with a blade, or with a broomstick, or that he was unarmed.
According to media reports, Todashev was about to sign a confession implicating himself and Tsarnaev in the 2011 slayings of three men in Waltham. Todashev had lived in Cambridge and Allston before moving to Florida, and was close to Tsarnaev, whose father is also an ethnic Chechen. Tsarnaev, 26, died after a police shoot-out days after the Marathon bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260. His brother, Dzhokhar, 20, is facing federal charges related to the explosions.
Abdulbaki Todashev disputed the possibility that his son, who according to family members and advocates had previously been questioned numerous times by authorities, could have attacked investigators in a way that would have forced them to kill him. Ibragim, a mixed martial arts fighter, was recovering from knee surgery and incapable of quick movement, his father said, and only weighed about 159 pounds.
“There were three people in a room and my son by himself,” he said. “The FBI and police usually select healthy, big guys. If they were in danger, they could have stopped him, wounded him, shot him in an arm or a leg, used a Taser. This is an unprecedented, premeditated, and intentional murder, because they shot him in the heart and the head.”
At a May news conference in Moscow, Todashev showed journalists pictures he said depicted his son’s body with seven bullet wounds.
Todashev acknowledged that his quest for an independent investigation faces serious obstacles. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Florida’s law enforcement commissioner have separately said they would not conduct their own investigations.
The American Civil Liberties Union had urged the states to investigate, arguing that police from both states were present during the fatal shooting. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has also called for an independent inquiry, saying in a letter to the Justice Department in June: “It seems unlikely that the agents were justified in using deadly force against a single unarmed suspect.”
The FBI usually investigates shootings by its own agents, along with the Justice Department. There have been exceptions — the Michigan attorney general and the Dearborn police conducted their own inquiries into the 2009 shooting by the FBI of an imam in Detroit. Neither investigation found evidence of wrongdoing by agents.
Abdulbaki Todashev, a city official in Grozny, Russia, came to America to repatriate his son’s body in June.
This time, he said, he could not predict how long he would be in the country. But he expressed concern that something might happen on the way to Florida.
“I am worried that your government might accuse me of something,” he said. “So I want everyone to know, I have all my documents in order, I’m not bringing anything illegal. I just want to get to the bottom of this.”