MOSCOW, March 26 (RAPSI, Ingrid Burke) - The fatal shooting by an FBI agent of Ibragim Todashev during an interrogation connected with the Boston Marathon bombing investigation was justified on the bases of self-defense and defense of another person, a Florida prosecutor concluded in documents released Tuesday.
A relatively peaceful and productive interrogation abruptly gave way to what was perceived as an immediate threat of impalement by Todashev with a pole being deployed like a javelin, State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton explained in a letter to FBI Director James Comey.
“The one common thread among all [of the statements gathered during the course of the investigation] was the observation that [Todashev] was, at his core, a fearless fighter. Regardless of how beaten down he was, he simply didn’t have any quit in him. Perhaps on this occasion, he simply reverted to that basic aspect of his personality and chose to go down fighting,” the prosecutor concluded.
Todashev, 27, a mixed martial arts fighter who had moved to the US from Russia's Chechen Republic several years earlier, was killed in his Orlando home on May 22 while being questioned about his links to deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a 2011 Massachusetts triple murder.
Prior to the ill-fated interview, law enforcement officers with the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) and a Special Agent with the FBI looked into Todashev’s personal history, in part by watching video footage of his MMA fights and speaking with individuals familiar with his fighting skills.
According to the letter, upon entering Todashev’s Orlando home, the officers took notice of the silhouette of an assault rifle on the front door, and of a decorative sword hanging from a wall inside.
Todashev purportedly admitted during the ensuing interrogation that he was involved in some capacity in the triple homicide, eventually agreeing to handwrite a statement detailing his involvement.
Todashev was seated on a mattress on the floor in front of a coffee table, which he was using as a desk in writing his confession, Ashton asserts. At that point, one of the MSP officers went outside to make a phone call.
The other MSP officer sat at the base of a stairwell, texting his concern to the other officers about Todashev’s demeanor.
Meanwhile, the FBI agent sat opposite the coffee table from Todashev, looking through his notes.
At some point while neither of the officers present were watching him, Todashev allegedly hurled the coffee table toward the FBI agent, bringing him to the floor.
Todashev then ran to the kitchen. The report emphasized this point; had he wanted to flee, the easiest option would have been to run through the sliding glass door behind him.
As Todashev began rummaging through the kitchen, the report states that the FBI agent rose to his feet, pulled his gun, and began shouting orders.
The MSP officer initially raised his gun, but lowered it again based on the assumption that Todashev was attempting to flee, rather than to fight.
The report describes the scene: “he lowers his gun, only to immediately realize that Mr. Todashev has turned and is moving in his direction carrying a long pole of some sort.”
The officers initially described the pole as akin to a club, though the MSP officer later clarified that Todashev appeared to be aiming it like a javelin, “with the end of the pole pointed toward him as if intended to be used to impale rather than strike.”
As Todashev allegedly advanced toward the MSP officer, the FBI agent fired three or four shots.
Todashev was brought to his knees by the initial gunshots but – according to the report – lunged toward the officers, undeterred by the force of his injuries.
At that point, the FBI agent fired three or four additional shots, killing Todashev.
Finding that the eyewitness accounts had been consistent with one another, and that additional evidence collected had not cast any significant doubt on the credibility of that firsthand account, Ashton concluded: “the actions of the Special Agent of the FBI were justified in self-defense and in defense of another.”
Pointing to a lack of evidence that the FBI agent had acted maliciously, Ashton found that criminal charges against him would be unwarranted.
The FBI confirmed the shooting death in its direct aftermath. However, details remained murky prior to the release on Tuesday of Ashton’s findings.
Todashev’s father Abdulbaki stated during a Moscow press conference in May that his son had been killed by a gunshot that had been fired at his head at point-blank range. Showing reporters photographs of what he claimed to be his son’s corpse, riddled with bullets, the elder Todashev explained, “He was questioned for eight hours…Then they shot him, six times in the body and once in the head.”
At the press conference, Abdulbaki Todashev speculated as to what could have inspired the authorities to shoot his son in the back of the head, but did not explicitly blame anyone involved for intentionally killing his son. He did not, on the other hand, stop short of accusing them of banditry: “They are bandits, not FBI agents.”