Civil rights group to sue FBI over Chechen man’s death
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Leaders of a civil rights group said Monday that they plan to sue the FBI for $30 million on behalf of the family of a Chechen man who was fatally shot while being questioned about a Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
The Council of American-Islamic Relations Florida filed a notice stating its intention to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the FBI over the death of Ibragim Todashev.
CAIR officials said they hope the lawsuit forces the FBI to change aspects of its hiring practices, where it interrogates people and how it investigates its agents, who are rare disciplined for such shootings. They said the agent who shot Todashev was sued for police brutality before he was hired by the FBI, and that Todashev should have been questioned in a controlled environment, rather than his apartment.
“The organization hopes that the suit will bring justice for the Todashev family,” said Ali Kurnaz, a spokesman for CAIR Florida. “It is a point of American pride that no authority is above the law. We have the freedom to question our government and hold our law enforcement accountable.”
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson refused to comment.
Todashev was killed at his Orlando, Florida, apartment about a month after the April 15, 2013, marathon bombings. FBI agents were interviewing Todashev as they looked into the background of bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Todashev and Tsarnaev had been friends through mixed-martial arts circles when Todashev lived in Boston.
Prosecutors in the State Attorney’s Office in Orlando investigated the shooting and decided not to file charges.
They said in a report that Todashev had been cooperative with investigators but he became agitated as he wrote a statement about his role in the 2011 killings of three men in Waltham, Massachusetts. In that case, three men were found in an apartment with their necks slit and their bodies reportedly covered with marijuana. One of the victims was a boxer and Tsarnaev’s friend.
Friends of the men have said they presumed the killings were drug-related, but police never confirmed that and the investigation is ongoing.
While signing the statement, Todashev flipped a coffee table in the air, knocking down an FBI agent in the room and causing a gash on his head. Todashev then grabbed a broomstick or mop handle and charged toward the Massachusetts trooper. The FBI agent shot Todashev several times, killing him, according to the report.
Kurnaz said the report left a lot of unanswered questions.
“There are a lot of things that happened that day that we don’t know, and we want to find out,” Kurnaz said.