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Florida prosecutor clears agents in 2013 shooting tied to Boston bombing

Source: Reuters - Tue, 25 Mar 2014 14:28 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with prosecutor's decision)

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla., March 25 (Reuters) - A Florida prosecutor on Tuesday cleared of criminal wrongdoing U.S. government agents involved in the 2013 shooting death of a Chechen immigrant who was being questioned about April's Boston Marathon bombing.

Ibragim Todashev, 27, was shot in May 2013 at his Orlando apartment after he suddenly attacked and injured a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent during an interrogation, according to the FBI.

Todashev was an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of two Chechen brothers who prosecutors contend carried out the Boston bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

"My conclusion, based upon the facts presented to me in this investigation, is that the actions of the special agent of the FBI were justified in self-defense and in defense of another," State Attorney Jeff Ashton said in a letter to FBI Director James Comey. "A complete review of the investigation leads me to conclude that criminal charges against the Special Agent of the FBI are not warranted."

At the time of his death, Todashev was being questioned about his suspected involvement in a triple murder in 2011 that law enforcement officials believed was linked to him and Tsarnaev.

U.S. prosecutors also could announce their decision about whether to bring charges in the case as soon as Tuesday, a law enforcement official said last week.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said federal prosecutors were very likely to clear agents of wrongdoing in the Florida shooting.

The FBI account of the shooting has been questioned by Todashev's father, who said his son was unarmed. A Muslim civil liberties group in Florida, the Tampa-based branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, has called for a detailed review of the shooting.

Hassan Shibly, executive director of Florida CAIR, said his organization's independent review concluded that Todashev, who was in the United States legally, was shot seven times and received a major wound, possibly a bullet hole, to the back of the head. The CAIR investigation also found blood splatter and other physical damage at the scene that pointed to Todashev being shot while he was lying on the ground, Shibly said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died after a gunfight with police days after the April 15 bombing attack, while he and brother Dzhokhar, now 20, were trying to flee the city. The younger Tsarnaev was later arrested and is awaiting trial on charges that could result in the death penalty if he is convicted. (Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Stephen Powell and Jonathan Oatis)

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