ACLU and CAIR seek answers in Ibragim Todashev shooting

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The American Civil Liberties Union called upon state officials in Florida and Massachusetts yesterday to launch independent investigations into the killing of an Orlando man who may have had connections with the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.The group is asking the Massachusetts attorney general and Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the role of their officers in the death.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched a federal probe into the incident last week, but the ACLU of Florida’s staff attorney Yvette Acosta MacMillan said the FBI hasn’t let Americans know what actually went on. She said the information coming out of the FBI is contradictory and doesn’t make sense.

“There were state law enforcement officers involved, so the people of the State of Florida have a right to know what their law enforcement officers are doing. Additionally, it was a Florida resident that was shot and killed in Florida. Florida should conduct its own investigation.”

On May 22, Ibragim Todashev was fatally shot in the head by FBI agents while being questioned at his apartment in Orlando. FBI officials initially claimed that agents were questioning Todashev about his relationship with a Boston Bombing suspect when Todashev attacked them, forcing them to respond with deadly force. Later, FBI officials back-tracked, saying it was unclear what happened that night. The Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations is conducting its own investigation into the killing, including an independent analysis of forensic evidence. CAIR’s Tampa executive director Hassan Shibly said what their initial investigation suggests is much different than what the FBI has claimed.

“We had hired a former 20-year Miami-Dade homicide detective to canvas the scene. He said, based on what he’s seen at the scene, it appears he was on the ground when he was shot.”

CAIR has also found that FBI investigators attempted to coerce Todashev and his friends into becoming informants, threatening them with jail time if they did not comply. Shibly also pointed to the detention of Todashev’s roommate, Tatiana Gruzdeva, as more evidence of inappropriate or illegal FBI tactics.

“Every time the FBI has been engaged in a shooting, within 24 hours they’ve came out explaining what happened and why their officers took the life of another human being, except in this case. It’s been weeks and we still have no official statement justifying why the FBI agents took the life of another human being. Part of this case is about the shooting, but I think it sheds a broader light on the tactics the FBI is taking on the Muslim community.”

Federal prosecutors have promised to “review the evidence and make an independent determination of whether a federal criminal investigation is warranted,” but a recent New York Times investigation revealed that since 1993 all fatal shootings by FBI agents have been found to be justified. CAIR Florida plans to release the final results of its investigation in the coming weeks.