By Dave Lindorff
The Florida State's Attorney for the Orlando region, Jeffrey Ashton, today released his conclusion at the end of a 10-month investigation into the FBI slaying of Ibragim Todashev, a suspected witness in the Boston bombing case, saying that he will not be prosecuting the agent. Ashton ruled that the killing, in which the agent, at the end of a nearly 5-hour May 21 interrogation in Todashev's Orlando apartment, fired seven bullets into Todashev, killing him justifiably, after being attacked.
However the evidence submitted to Ashton's office by the FBI, the local coroner's office and his own investigators, on examination, actually leads to a different conclusion from the one of justifiable homicide which he, and the FBI in its own internal probe, have reached.
For one thing, the two accounts of what happened offered by the FBI agent who shot Todashev, and by a Massachusetts State Trooper who was also in the room at the time of the shooting, are significantly at odds.
Why should we care about the FBI slaying of a Russian Chechen immigrant during an investigation into a Boston murder case? Because, as I wrote recently in Counterpunch magazine , Todashev was actually also a close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two brothers suspected of being the Boston Marathon bombers. The FBI had started investigating Todashev a day after the bombing when it learned he was a friend of the elder brother, but perhaps were more interested in preventing him from talking about what he knew than in learning what he had to say.
First a scene setter: According to all witnesses who came onto the scene after the shooting, Todashev's body ended up in a foyer leading to the front door from the apartment's living room, where the interrogation happened, his feet pointing to the front door, and his head and shoulders on the floor in the living room. He was found positioned face down by an investigator from the local Medical Examiner's office lying there on top of a red broomstick, a point made by every witness to the scene.
The Massachusetts State Trooper, in a May 29 interview with FBI internal investigators of the shooting, explains that stick in his account of the shooting. He says that late in the evening, towards midnight, Todashev had begun to confess to having been involved in a 2011 triple murder in Waltham, Mass., which the a Massachusetts prosecutor was investigating, and had agreed to write a confession, when he suddenly yelled, flipped the table he was writing on at the FBI agent questioning him, and raced towards the front door. He says Todashev, a martial arts expert, ran toward the door, but then "grabbed a rod, approximately five-foot-long pole that was lying against the wall near the door," and then "raised the pole in his hands kind of with both hans which appeared to me to be a trained fighting position and charged me as if he was going to impale me with the pole."
At that point the trooper says he heard shots fired from his right as he was standing in the living room facing the charging Todashev, and "saw Todashev make two movements which indicated he had been injured by the shots. "He fell to his hands and knees, and then, almost instantly, he sprang forward, coming up in a fighting stance. I heard more shots and he fell to the ground, this time apparently incapacitated."