WASHINGTON — Hours after a similar announcement in Florida, top FBI officials in Washington said Tuesday that they have cleared the special agent who shot and killed a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying that the shooting was "consistent" with Department of Justice deadly force policies.
The FBI decision came after the Florida state attorney in Orlando said he would not criminally prosecute the unnamed Boston-based special agent for shooting Ibragim Todashev, 27, in May. The state officials also released interview reports with the special agent in which he said, "I was in fear for my life and the life of a trooper" who also was present in Todashev's apartment. "There was no doubt in my mind that Todashev intended to kill both of us."
The FBI in Washington emphasized that the state prosecutorial decisions "were made independent of the FBI."
Mike Kortan, an FBI assistant director, said an in-house Shooting Incident Review Group conducted a review and "found the shooting was consistent with DOJ deadly force policy."
The shooting occurred late on May 22. The agent and two Massachusetts state troopers were interviewing Todashev about Tsarnaev and a unsolved triple homicide on Sept. 11, 2011, in Waltham, Mass.
According to the state attorney's findings, "Law enforcement's contact with Mr. Todashev was initially based on his association with the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was known to have criminally caused the deaths of others."
During the interview, the state found, Todashev, a mixed martial arts expert, was in the process of writing out a signed confession in connection to the triple homicide when he suddenly threw a coffee table at the agent and then lunged at him with a red broomstick.
"In order to stop this threat, I shot Todashev three to four times," the agent told state investigators. "Todashev fell backwards, but did not go to the ground. He then re-established his footing and suddenly lunged toward us. I shot him three or four more times in order to stop his continuing deadly threat. This time Todashev fell to the ground face first and I believed the threat had been eliminated."
In all, Todashev was shot seven times. The agent suffered a long gash across the back of his head that required nine stitches.