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Troopers, FBI sued in 2013 death of Chechen in Florida

Crime scene technicians and law enforcement officers worked the scene at an apartment complex where Federal Bureau of Investigation officials reported that agents shot and killed a suspect, reportedly Ibragim Todashev, during an interview early in the morning in Orlando, Fla.
Crime scene technicians and law enforcement officers worked the scene at an apartment complex where Federal Bureau of Investigation officials reported that agents shot and killed a suspect, reportedly Ibragim Todashev, during an interview early in the morning in Orlando, Fla. (BRIAN BLANCO/european pressphoto agency/file 2013)

The family of a Chechen man who was fatally shot in his Orlando apartment in May 2013 while being questioned about the Boston Marathon bombings has filed a wrongful- death lawsuit against two FBI agents and two Massachusetts state troopers.

A 15-page civil complaint was filed Monday in federal court in Florida by the estate of Ibragim Todashev on behalf of his parents.

The complaint names FBI agents Aaron McFarlane and Christopher John Savard, state troopers Curtis Cinelli and Joel Gagne, and the United States of America as defendants.

Savard is an Orlando police officer and member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force who operates as an FBI agent as a JTTF member, the complaint says.

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McFarlane shot Todashev seven times as the 27-year-old was trying to leave his residence after hours of questioning, and the other defendants conspired to cause his death, the lawsuit alleges.

“Todashev’s death on May 22, 2013 was the result of excessive force by FBI agents,” the complaint said.

Ibragim Todashev.
Ibragim Todashev. (Orange County Corrections Department via AP/file)

That claim differs sharply from prior statements by law enforcement officials, who have said in reports that Todashev, a mixed martial arts fighter, hurled a coffee table at McFarlane and charged him and Cinelli with a metal broomstick before McFarlane opened fire.

And, the authorities have said, Todashev had earlier confessed to participating in a 2011 triple murder in Waltham with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Marathon bombers, who died in a clash with police days after the deadly blasts.

But in the complaint filed Monday, lawyers for Todashev’s estate said that investigators coerced him into making a false confession.

An FBI spokeswoman said Wednesday night that the bureau cannot comment on pending litigation.

State Police spokesman David Procopio said his agency does not comment on pending lawsuits, either.

“We expect that a vigorous defense of our personnel will be presented in court,” Procopio wrote in an e-mail.

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A report in 2014 from a top Florida prosecutor quoted Todashev as telling investigators that the Waltham killings had occurred during what was supposed to have been a robbery. “Okay, I’m telling you I was involved in it, okay, I, I, had no idea [word redacted] gonna kill anyone,” the report quoted Todashev as saying.

Government reports and court records show that the authorities suspected Todashev and Tsarnaev in the Waltham killings.

On Sept. 12, 2011, Brendan Mess, 25, once a close friend of Tsarnaev; Erik H. Weissman, 31; and Raphael M. Teken, 37, were found in Mess’s apartment with their throats slit and their bodies sprinkled with marijuana.

Lawyers for Todashev’s estate wrote in the civil complaint that he had voluntarily spoken with investigators on multiple occasions before his death.

“The agents used intimidation, deceit, and other improper means against Todashev, his friends, and family — including interference with the immigration status of Todashev’s friends and family — to coerce Todashev into falsely confessing to crimes he did not commit,” the complaint said.

According to the lawsuit, Todashev condemned the Boston Marathon bombings during one conversation with investigators, calling the attack “horrible and unnecessary.”


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.