The father of a Chechen man fatally shot by the FBI was sought for questioning by the bureau after he arrived in the United States to prepare a possible wrongful death lawsuit against the agency, but he refused to meet with the agents, his lawyers said today.
Abdulbaki Todashev, the father of Ibragim Todashev, who was killed May 22 in his Orlando, Fla., apartment during an interrogation about his friendship with suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, refused to speak with the agents because he did not have a lawyer, said Eric Ludin, one of several high-powered lawyers the father has retained since he arrived last week.
Ludin spoke at the Tampa offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter in Florida, where advocates, including the ACLU of Florida, gathered to introduce the legal team Todashev has assembled as they monitor state and federal investigations into the shooting. Barry Cohen, a prominent lawyer in the Tampa area who has won multimillion-dollar awards for his clients, will lead the legal team.
“We believe that Mr. Todashev, as any father would, deserves a thorough explanation about what happened to his son when he was alone in his house with state and federal law enforcement officers and then killed,” Ludin said.
Ibragim Todashev, 27, was shot multiple times in his apartment after submitting to several hours of interrogation without a lawyer by the FBI and Massachusetts State Police related to the Marathon bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260 on April 15.
News reports later said Todashev was about to sign a confession implicating himself and Tsarnaev in a triple homicide in Waltham in 2011.
The FBI has said only that Todashev, an ethnic Chechen like Tsarnaev, was shot after he allegedly initiated a violent confrontation and that a Boston FBI agent was injured. Media reports, citing anonymous sources, provided conflicting reports about whether Todashev was armed.
At the press conference, Ludin said he had no reason to believe Todashev was armed and that he had submitted to previous interrogations and even delayed a trip home to Russia to cooperate with the FBI.
Ludin said Todashev was merely an “acquaintance” of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Todashev was a mixed martial arts fighter and Tsarnaev, who died in a police shootout after the bombing, was a boxer.
Ludin also said he had no evidence that Todashev was involved in the Waltham homicides.
“I have absolutely no reason to think that he was involved in any kind of homicide,” Ludin said.
Ibragim Todashev came to the United States in 2008 from Russia to study English and lived for a time in Allston and Cambridge. He won asylum that year and later married, but he also had two arrests for violent incidents, including an attack on a man over a parking space the month Todashsev was killed.
At the press conference, Todashev’s father, a city official in Chechnya, a region of southern Russia, declined to take questions but said he was convinced of his son’s innocence. He said his son had recently had knee surgery and was not strong enough to attack the FBI agent.
“He didn’t do anything wrong,” Todashev said of his son. “He was simply not capable of doing it.”
The FBI, with the Department of Justice, are investigating the shooting. Last week, the top proseuctor in Orlando also said he would conduct his own investigation.
Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.Maria Sacchetti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti