The FBI Has a New Story About Why It Killed Ibragim Todashev

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 31 2013 9:53 AM

The FBI Has a New Story About Why an Agent Shot and Killed Tamerlan's Friend

Todashev.Ibragim.photo
Ibragim Todashev seen here in a booking photo from May 2013 after he had been arrested for aggrevated battery in an unrelated case

Photo courtesy of the Orange County Corrections Department

Another day, another version of the story of what happened in Ibragim Todashev's Florida apartment the night he was shot and killed by the FBI, via the New York Times:

Mr. Todashev, according to the F.B.I., confessed to his involvement in [a 2011 triple homicide] and implicated [Tamerlan] Tsarnaev. He then started to write a statement admitting his involvement while sitting at a table across from the agent and one of the detectives when the agent briefly looked away, the official said. At that moment, Mr. Todashev picked up the table and threw it at the agent, knocking him to the ground.
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While trying to stand up, the agent, who suffered a wound to his face from the table that required stitches, drew his gun and saw Mr. Todashev running at him with a metal pole, according to the official, adding that it might have been a broomstick.
The agent fired several shots at Mr. Todashev, striking him and knocking him backward. But Mr. Todashev again charged at the agent. The agent fired several more shots at Mr. Todashev, killing him. The detective in the room did not fire his weapon, the official said. Under the F.B.I.’s guidelines, agents can fire a gun at someone if they feel the person is a threat to them or someone else.

That's the most detailed account provided yet by the law enforcement officials who have been speaking off the record to outlets while the FBI investigation (which could take months) is underway. Still, as you can tell, it's far from a final draft—note how more than a week later, the officials can't say for sure whether Todashev was holding a metal pole or a broomstick.

The new version of events comes after unnamed officials finished slowly walking back their original claims that Todashev, knife in hand, had lunged at the officer. It also came on the same day that Todashev's father used a Moscow news conference to accuse the FBI of killing his son "execution-style."

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.