WASHINGTON, May 30 (RIA Novosti) – A US Islamic rights group said Thursday it is calling for an official investigation of the FBI shooting death in Florida of a 27-year-old man who was being questioned about his ties to a suspect in the Boston Marathon bomb attack, amid reports the victim was unarmed.
“The bottom line is you have an unarmed individual who was not convicted or even charged with a crime who was interrogated and then was shot and killed,” Hassan Shibly, director of the Tampa branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told RIA Novosti.
“Were his rights violated during the interrogation-questioning process? Was excessive force used against him? We’re not accusing anyone of anything at this point. We just have a lot of unanswered questions,” Shibly said in a telephone interview.
He said CAIR expected to file its formal complaint with the US Department of Justice by Friday calling for an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death of Ibragim Todashev, who was shot by an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Orlando on May 22.
“We want to make sure we are holding our law enforcement officers to the absolute highest standards,” Shibly said, adding: “For us it’s about constitutional principles and the rule of law.”
The FBI said in a statement issued the day Todashev was shot that he was being interviewed in connection with the investigation into the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing when he initiated a “violent confrontation” and was killed.
Accounts from law enforcement officials published by US media in the immediate aftermath of the shooting were contradictory, with some saying Todashev was armed with a knife and others saying he attempted to grab an FBI agent’s gun.
However on Wednesday, the Washington Post, quoting an unnamed law enforcement official, reported that Todashev was not holding a gun or a knife when he was shot seven times by an FBI agent after having been questioned about his ties to Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Hours after the shooting media reports quoting law enforcement officials said Todashev was being interviewed by the FBI about a possible connection to a Sept. 11, 2001 triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts. The officials said Todashev had acknowledged his involvement in the murders and had also implicated Tsarnaev.
Both Todashev and Tsarnaev moved to the United States from the former Soviet Union and both men had ethnic and family roots in the volatile southern Russian republic of Chechnya. Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police several days after the April 15 Boston Marathon twin bomb attack.
In its May 22 statement, the FBI said it was “currently reviewing” the Florida shooting. The Washington Post said that investigation could take several months.