We’re all aware of the tragic event that occurred at the 2013 Boston Marathon, and the devastation left behind in its aftermath. Unfortunately because of that horrible tragedy, what would normally have been a hard to pronounce word -Tsarnaev- has become a household name. But do you know the name Ibragim Todashev? Do you know who he is, and what happened to him?
According to federal law enforcement agents, Todashev may have been a suspect in a triple murder case. However, we will now know him as the man who was shot seven times in his home by FBI agents after hours of interrogation.
Yes, it is alleged that he attempted to attack the officer who was interrogating him, but do all the facts add up? Details from the incident are hazy at best. What we know as facts is that he was interrogated for multiple hours, and then he was shot dead. What we were told by federal authorities is that he supposedly became violent just as he was about to sign a confession. An official said Mr. Todashev had something in his hand, “a knife or a pipe or something." Other sources merely mention a violent ‘lunge’. At this moment the consensus and evidence (or lack there of) suggest he was unarmed.
It has been weeks since Todashev's death, and we are still unsure of why he was being interviewed? For his relationship to the Boston bombers? His links to a 2011 triple murder? Or his religious affiliation and national origin? It is very troubling that the only people able to explain what occurred happen to be the same people who killed him.
All that can be said for sure is that a Chechen immigrant was shot to death under ambiguous circumstances weeks after the Boston bombing increased attention on Chechen Americans. Irresponsible reporting that include false allegations of an FBI agent being stabbed, redactions, and conflicting accounts soon followed the incident clouding any other assumptions we may have about the details of his death.
The Boston bombings remain salient in the minds of all Americans, but we must not tolerate shoddy news reporting and the abuse of authority as an aftermath of the tragedy. Regardless of who this man is and what his affiliations are, American laws and principles must be upheld.
Todasev's father received photos of his dead son's body.
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) has begun requesting that the Department of Justice investigate the shooting of Ibragim Todashev. Particularly into the assumption that the action of the officials present was appropriate due to a reasonable suspicion that Todashev was armed. It is profoundly important to ensure that FBI practices comport to law and that any diversions are accounted for and kept in check.
In that same vein, it is imperative that any person who finds himself or herself in a situation where they are being questioned by officials, immediately request that a lawyer be present. Prior to Todashev’s fatal interview, several of Todashev's friends told the Sentinel that the FBI told him this week's discussion would be "his last interview and that he was going to be cleared.” Perhaps that is why he did not avail himself of a lawyer.
We cannot stress this enough: Exercise Your Right to a Lawyer in All Circumstances. There are numerous great organizations including CAIR, the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, and CUNY CLEAR who provide free legal services for those who are contacted by the FBI or state law enforcement officers. If the FBI contacts you, contact us.
Click here to download CAIR-New York's Know Your Rights Guide to help you handle home visits or calls from the FBI and local law enforcement agents.
Zahra is a Civil Rights Intern with CAIR-NY. She is currently a J.D. candidate at CUNY Law School.