Clearing of FBI Agent in Fatal Shooting Spurs Skepticism

Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 04:50 PM

By Aaron Stern

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The decision not to charge an FBI agent who shot and killed an unarmed man while questioning him last year during the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings has sparked skepticism and anger.

Florida State Attorney Jeff Ashton released a report Tuesday that declared the agent acted properly and did not demonstrate "intentional misconduct or acted with any degree of malice, " The New York Times reported.

FBI officials were led to Ibragim Todashev, a Chechen national, because he had connections to the brothers accused of carrying out the attack. But their interest in Todashev turned to his possible connection to a Boston-area triple homicide on the 10th  anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

According to The Washington Post, the FBI says Todashev admitted to participating in the murders and had begun to write out his confession – a confession that also implicated deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev – when he picked up a coffee table and threw it at a bureau agent who had led the questioning in Todashev's apartment.

The agent shot Todashev once, then six more times when the initial shot failed to stop Todashev's advance.

The FBI cleared the unnamed agent involved months ago, but questions remained about the circumstances surrounding the shooting. The state of Florida's report  was made public the same day similar findings were released by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

The American Civil Liberties Union reportedly wants an investigation of the Florida report, and Boston public radio station WBUR reported that the FBI agent who shot Todashev was never interviewed as part of that probe. That decision was highly irregular, according to Tom Nolan, a professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, who told WBUR it "reminds me of bizzaro world."

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow expressed skepticism at the timing of the joint conclusions that the FBI's actions in the incident were justified, and The Boston Herald called the report a whitewash, adding, "Once again the FBI waltzes away from a mess. No harm, no foul."

The New York Times reported last year that FBI agents fatally shot roughly 70 suspects and wounded about 80 others, but internal investigations found the agents involved acted properly in every one of those incidents.

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