Takeaways from the Todashev shooting report

A report released today on the fatal shooting of Ibragim Todashev clears the FBI agent involved of wrongdoing. Todashev, 27, a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was questioned on May 22, 2013 about his connection to Tsarnaev. The report determined that the FBI agent was “reasonable and justified, and therefore, lawful” in the fatal shooting.

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According to Florida State Attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton’s report:

- Ibragim Todashev was contacted by the FBI six days after the Boston Marathon bombing, on April 21, 2013.

- The interrogation lasted almost five hours—from 7:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m—and took place inside Todashev’s Orlando apartment. One FBI Agent and two Massachusetts State Troopers were inside the apartment, while one other officer remained outside.

- Authorities questioned Todashev about his association with Tamerlan Tsarnaev as well as his connection to a 2011 triple homicide in Waltham, Mass. Those involved in the questioning said Todashev confessed to being involved in the triple homicide.

- According to an FBI statement contained in the report, one trooper stepped outside to call a Boston prosecutor about the confession just as Todashev was in the process of writing it down. The report calls this a “deviation from the plan.” Todashev then attacked the remaining two officers, the FBI agent as well as the one remaining Massaschusetts state trooper.

- The FBI agent said he feared for his safety and fired 3 to 4 shots at Todashev. Todashev went down on his knees and then “sprang” to his feet and attacked again, at which point, the FBI agent fired again.

- An FBI document cited in the report gives an account of the shooting:

"... At approximately 12:04 AM Todaschev was in the process of writing a confession... when he suddenly attacked. He flipped the table he was writing on which was believed to have struck ... [the FBI Agent] in the head and ran to the kitchen. Todaschev was heard frantically grabbing items in the kitchen and reappeared in the doorway wielding a long metal handle of a mop or broom. He [Mr. Todashev] took an attack stance with the weapon, ... [the FBI Agent] issued verbal commands, to which Todaschev did not comply, and violently lunged towards ... [the FBI Agent] and ... [Trooper One]."

The trooper inside the apartment said Todashev picked up the object and came at him. He said:

"Well, um, he picked up that weapon and came at me, I described it as something you'd see in a movie, it was extremely fast and I moved to the right and if FBI hadn't have taken the actions of, of ah, using force to put, to, to incapacitate the, the threat, there might be a different story."

- Todashev was shot seven times, including bullets to both his head and heart. He died at the scene. His body was found face down on the floor. An autopsy confirmed that Todashev’s death was due to the multiple gunshot wounds. The manner of death was ruled a homicide. The autopsy indicates that one bullet entered his brain, three entered his back, two went through his left upper arm and then chest, and an another bullet entered his chest. The report lists two of the shots to the back as “not consistent” with the shooter position.

- The Massachusetts state trooper questioning Todashev inside the apartment said he texted the other trooper before the confrontation to: “Be on guard, He [Todashev] is in vulnerable position to do something bad. Be on guard now. I see him looking around at times.”

- That same officer said Todashev’s demeanor changed when the discussion turned to the triple homicide. Todashev asked for additional cigarettes despite having a full pack. He asked to go to the bathroom and seemed to move “noticeably slow.” The trooper said: “I was more and more concerned that he might try to flee or attack us.” On the way back from the bathroom, the same trooper, who was escorting Todashev, hid a sword that had been hanging on the wall, stashing it in the kitchen “to keep it from Todashev’s reach.”

- A selection of text messages exchanged between law enforcement officers during the interrogation was contained in the report:

Trooper One sent the following text message: "Okay he's writing a statement now in his apt"

Trooper One sent the following text message: "Who[']s your daddy" [sic]

Trooper One sent the following text message: "Who[']s your daddy" [sic]

Trooper One received the following text message: "???" [sic]

Trooper One sent the following text message: "Getting confession as we speak"

Trooper One received the following text message: "Shut the hell up...thought that's what u were saying. Who doin[g] interview? Any other suspects?"

Trooper One sent the following text message: "Me FBI guy And . He. Is now writing the statement. Gonna be a long night. Still in his apt in Orlando. Admitted his role"

- During the questioning, Todashev asked whether he could “smoke in jail, how much time he would get, and if he could get a deal.”

- The FBI agent involved in the interrogation said he was reading from his notepad when he heard a loud noise and felt a blow to the back of his head. The agent said he was also partially knocked off his chair.

- Before the interrogation had begun, the four law enforcement officers had met Todashev and a friend (referred to only as “Khusn” in the report) in the residence’s parking lot. “Khusn” remained outside with an officer during the questioning. “Khusn” told officers that Todashev was very upset about his girlfriend being deported and that he believed the FBI had something to do with it. “Khusn” left at 10:30 p.m. after officers told him he could leave.

- The report included references to audio and video recordings of the interrogation with Todashev. These recordings are said to have captured most of the “interview” and confession, but did not capture the shooting. The existence of recordings was not immediately known, but was later brought to the attention of the FBI. At one point in the video recording, Todashev said: “Like I said, I didn’t kill nobody and I need your help.” According to the report, he then “looked directly into the camera” and stated: “Can you turn that off please?” In another recording, Todashev responded to questions about his involvement in the 2011 triple homicide: “If I tell you my involvement, is there any chance … you need me to testify?” He later said: “I was involved in it.”

- All law enforcement officers involved in the interrogation were aware of Todashev’s professional fighting experience and had viewed his mixed martial arts videos.

- One of the state troopers said he determined probable cause for Todashev’s involvement in the Waltham triple slaying a couple hours into the interview after Todashev made comments about “jail time” and that he “never killed anybody.”

- The Florida medical examiner’s office indicated in its own report that there was more than one shooter. However, the possibility of there having been more than one shooter was disputed by the FBI as well as the Florida state attorney’s office.

Read the full report on the FBI shooting here.