Photo by Christopher Balogh
Photo by Christopher Balogh
On Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations requested a private investigation of last week’s deadly shooting of an Orlando man by an FBI agent who was questioning his connection to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamarlan Tsarnaev.
CAIR-Tampa executive director Hassan Shibly announced that, through anonymous “intermediary” sources, he learned that Ibragim Todashev was unarmed when he was shot by the agent.
“We confirmed today with our sources that he was unarmed,” Shibly said. “He was shot seven times, and once in the head.”
After the news conference, Khusen Taramov – a friend of Todashev’s – showed photos of Todashev’s body. The photos were taken at an Orlando funeral home after the Orange-Osceola County Medical Examiner released the body to Todashev’s family.
Todashev’s widow, Reniya Manukyan, said she cannot believe her husband has been accused of conspiring with Tsarnaev in committing violent acts. Law-enforcement authorities say Todashev may have had played a role in the 2011 murder of three men in Waltham, Mass. – a crime that Tsarnaev has now been tied to.
“We want to know what is the truth,” Manukyan said. “People say you can live with someone for seven or 20 years, and still not know them – I knew him pretty well.”
Manukyan and Todashev were married for three years. They were married in Boston, where she said Todashev knew Tsarneav casually.
“They were never friends,” she said. “They went to the same gym and text messaged each other.”
Manukyan said this might be one of the reasons why her husband was targeted for questioning.
“They probably found his phone number in his phone book,” she said. “After Ibragim got his knee surgery, he [Tsarnaev] checked on him to see how he was doing.”
When Manukyan was asked about her feelings toward the U.S. government, she bore no ill will – she just wants someone to investigate why the specific FBI agent shot her husband. Manuykan said her mother is in the U.S. military.
Manukyan’s mother, Elena Teyer, said she has served in the U.S. Army as a pharmacy technician for more than five years. She said she joined to make the pathway to citizenship easier for her and her children.
“I heard about the news, while I was at Fort Stewart,” Teyer said. “I drove as fast as I could from Savannah to Orlando to be with her.”
The group at the news conference said that they were all interviewed by the FBI on the day of the shooting – Teyer in Savannah and Manukyan in Atlanta. Taramov commented on the FBI’s suspected connection between Todashev and Tsarnaev.
“He [Todashev] said to me, ‘I just found out that the Boston bomber was Chechen. Can you believe it? I can’t believe I knew the guy, too,” Taramov said. “Since day one, they have been following us.”
Tarmaov said that the FBI was following him and Todashev for months, in unmarked cars, like Nissan Maximas and Ford SUVs.
“I trusted them,” Taramov said. “They told me that no one would get hurt, they wanted to just ask questions.”
Todashev said that Taramov grew exhausted with the questioning over past months.
“He told me that he was so tired of it,” Taramov said. “He said he just wanted to go home to Chechnya. The FBI asked him to come down to the office for the questioning, but he didn’t feel like it going in, so he asked them to come to his home.”
Shibly said that Todashev was asked to cancel his plane ticket back home for what the agents said would be his last interview.
“They told him that this would be his last interview and he would be clear,” Shibly said. “It was his last
Shibly suggested that someone should determine whether the federal agents violated any of Todashev’s 5th
amendments rights in handling the case.
“We will be requesting the U.S. Department of Justice to further investigate what happened on the day of the shooting,” Shibly said. “We also want look at if there was excessive force used by law enforcement.”
In early accounts from anonymous federal law-enforcement sources said Todashev might have been armed with a knife, a more recent account from myfoxboston.com, reported that he lunged with a sword at the FBI agent.
UPDATE: CBS News is reporting
that today the father of Ibragim Todashev appeared at a press conference in Moscow and says that his unarmed son was killed "execution style" by the FBI.
UPDATE: Here is the FBI's most current statement on the situation:
The FBI is conducting a review of the May 22, 2013 shooting of Ibragim Todashev, 27, which occurred at Todashev’s residence, at 6022 Peregrine Avenue, Orlando, Florida. The FBI’s shooting incident review team interviews witnesses and gathers information regarding the shooting incident for presentation to a Shooting Incident Review Group (SIRG), which consists of members from the FBI and the Department of Justice. The SIRG examines all of the information and determines the reasonableness of the application of deadly force in accordance with the Department of Justice’s deadly force policy and the law. While this internal review process is occurring, we cannot comment regarding investigative details.
The FBI takes very seriously any shooting incidents involving our agents, and as such, we have an effective, time-tested process for addressing them internally. The review process is thorough and objective and conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances.
UPDATE: Hassan Shibly notified the Orlando Weekly
concerning more information about Todashev's whereabouts during the 2011 triple murder:
We are working on a statement of proof that Ibragim was not in Boston at the time of the September killings. Also, we are preparing a formal complaint.