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News

Will there be an independent investigation of Ibragim Todashev shooting?

Family and friends of man shot by FBI say there should be

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On May 29, the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a press conference at an International Drive hotel to demand a private investigation of last week’s deadly shooting of an Orlando man by an FBI agent. As has been widely reported, the FBI turned up at an apartment on Peregrine Drive in the early morning hours of May 22 to question Ibragim Todashev about his acquaintance with Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. At some point during the questioning, an altercation took place – reports from law-enforcement officials about what exactly happened are vague and conflicting – and Todashev was shot to death by one of the agents.

Hassan Shibly, executive director for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Tampa, says that he learned through anonymous “intermediary” sources that Todashev was unarmed when he was shot. “He was shot seven times and once in the head,” Shibly said.

After the news conference, Khusen Taramov – a friend of Todashev’s who was at the apartment while the questioning was taking place – showed photos of Todashev’s body that he said were taken at an Orlando funeral home after the medical examiner’s office released the body to Todashev’s family.

Todashev’s widow, Reniya Manukyan, was also at the press conference. Although the FBI insists Todashev confessed to taking part in the Sept. 11, 2011, murder of three men in Waltham, Mass. – a crime that Tsarnaev has now been tied to – she said she finds it difficult to believe her husband would ever have conspired with Tsarnaev to commit a violent act. In fact, the Council for American-Islamic Relations says it has proof that Todashev was not even in the Boston area on the date those killings took place.

Manukyan and Todashev were married for three years. They lived in Boston, where she said Todashev knew Tsarnaev casually. She said they were never friends but that they “went to the same gym and text-messaged each other.”

She said this might be why her husband was targeted for questioning.

“They probably found his phone number in his phone book,” she said. “After Ibragim got his knee surgery, he [Tsarnaev] checked on him to see how he was doing.”

When Manukyan was asked about her feelings toward the U.S. government, she said she bore no ill will – in fact, her mother, Elena Teyer (who was also at the press conference), has served in the U.S. Army as a pharmacy technician for more than five years. She said she joined to make the pathway to citizenship easier for her and her children.

“I heard about the news while I was at Fort Stewart,” Teyer said. “I drove as fast as I could from Savannah to Orlando to be with [Manukyan].”

Teyer, Taramov and Manukyan were all interviewed by the FBI on the day of the shooting – Teyer in Savannah and Manukyan in Atlanta.

Taramov said that the FBI had been following him and Todashev in unmarked cars, like Nissan Maximas and Ford SUVs, for months. “Since day one, they have been following us,” he said, but added that Todashev was just as surprised as the rest of the world the day he learned that Tsarnaev was implicated in the Boston Marathon bombing.

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