ACLU: Ibragim Todashev shooting in Orlando should be subject to independent probe

Almost two weeks after Ibragim Todashev was shot and killed by an FBI agent in Orlando, one of the nation’s leading civil liberties groups has joined calls for the FBI to release details of the shooting as well as for an independent investigation.

This undated mugshot released by the Orange County (Florida) Sheriff's Office shows Orlando, Florida resident Ibragim Todashev, 27. Todashev was identified by the FBI as the man who was shot by an FBI agent on May 22, 2013, while being questioned in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing. The FBI said Todashev initiated a "violent confrontation" during the questioning early Wednesday in Orlando, Florida, and was killed, and an FBI agent suffered "non-life threatening injuries." Todashev was reported to be a friend of deceased Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom he knew through their shared hobby of mixed martial-arts fighting. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE / MANDATORY CREDIT: "AFP PHOTO / ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE / NO SALES / NO MARKETING / NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS / DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS == -/AFP/Getty Images
Ibragim Todashev (Orange County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office)AFP/Getty Images

With few details released so far by the government, the American Civil Liberties Union told the Globe today that it is monitoring the case.

“We’re concerned, like many other groups, about the way this story has changed,” said Michael German, senior policy counsel in the ACLU’s legislative office. “What we’d like to see is an independent and transparent investigation into what happened in this case.”

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Todashev, 27, was shot and killed after spending hours being interviewed in his Orlando apartment by FBI agents. A Chechen man and friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Todashev had been monitored since the days immediately following the Marathon bombing and had been previously questioned about his relationship with Tsarnaev.

During the May 22 interview, Todashev was shot and killed after what the FBI termed a “violent confrontation.” The FBI has refused to officially disclose what led to the shooting, or if Todashev had a weapon. However, unnamed law enforcement officials have spread wildly inconsistent versions of what happened in the apartment through the Globe and other media outlets.

German added that the details being leaked by the FBI to the media via unnamed sources — that Todashev was in the process of confessing to an unsolved 2011 triple murder in Waltham — could unfairly influence public perception of Todashev before the full set of facts come to light.

“Those types of accusations are easy to make,” German said. “The longer that it takes for these details to be released, the more concern develops and the less good faith there is in whatever story eventually comes out from the FBI.”

Todashev’s friends and family members, both in the United States and in Russia, have called for an independent investigation of the shooting, as has the Council for American-Islamic Relations, one of the nation’s most prominent Muslim advocacy groups.

On Monday, Russia’s state-owned media reported that the country’s officials have asked the FBI to hand over investigative documents related to Todashev’s shooting.

“As soon as information appeared in the press about the death of Ibragim Todashev, the Russian embassy in Washington, according to established practices and on the basis of bilateral consulate conventions, sent an inquiry to the appropriate US government agencies requesting confirmation of this information,” Konstantin Dolgov, Russia’s top human rights official, said in an interview with ITAR-TASS, a state-owned news organization based in Moscow.

Dolgov told the media outlet that the Russians have requested Todashev’s autopsy report — which currently remains sealed — as well as documentation related to the firearms used in the shooting.

FBI officials in Tampa and Boston have said they will not be releasing any further information on the shooting. An FBI spokesman in Washington, D.C., said today that the agency would not release any documents related to the case to Russia until the investigation is complete.

Elected officials in the United States have remained silent on the shooting. Florida Governor Rick Scott, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Representative Daniel Webster did not respond to requests for comment.

Massachusetts Representative William R. Keating, a member of the homeland security and foreign affairs committees, said Saturday that he had not received any FBI briefings on the shooting, but he urged patience and noted the need for details to remain secret while the FBI completes its investigation.

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