In this booking photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Ibragim Todashev poses for his mug shot after being arrested for aggravated battery May 4, 2013 in Orlando, Florida. Todashev was being questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 22, 2013 about his ties to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects when he was killed by an FBI agent after attacking the agent. (Photo by Orange County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)
A Florida man with ties to Boston bombing suspect Tamarlan Tsarnaev
was unarmed when he was shot to death last week while being questioned
by an FBI agent, according to media reports quoting FBI and law
Initially, at least one law enforcement official told USA TODAY that Ibragim Todashev, a 27-year-old ethnic Chechen, was armed with a
knife or other sharp object when he violently attacked an FBI agent
during questioning in Orlando.
WESH-TV reported Thursday that unidentified FBI sources now say that Todashev was unarmed.
Orlando NBC affiliate quotes sources as saying a sword was inside the
apartment, but that the weapon was moved to the corner of the room
before questioning began.
The sources said, according to WESH,
that when Todashev lunged, the FBI agent opened fired because he
believed that Todashev could have possibly been going for his gun or the
sword in the room.
The unidentified sources tell WESH that Todashev might have been lunging toward a sword, but he was not in possession of it.
The Washington Post quoted
one law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to
discuss the investigation, said Wednesday that Todashev overturned a
table but did not have a gun or a knife. A second official also said
Todashev was unarmed, the Post reported.
An official, the newspaper reported, said that according to one account of the shooting, the other law enforcement officials had just stepped out of the room, leaving the FBI agent alone with Todashev, when the confrontation occurred.
The Florida branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for a federal civil rights investigation into Todashev's death.
"We have confirmed through senior sources within the FBI that Ibragim was indeed unarmed when he was shot seven times in the head, what appear to be even in the back of the head," said Hassan Shibly, executive director of the CAIR Florida. "That's very disturbing."
Later, according to the Orlando Sentinel reported, Shibly told reporters that CAIR has an "intermediary" who said the FBI told him Todashev was unarmed. Shibly did not identify the intermediary.
Shibly, speaking to reporters in Orlando on Wednesday, said the group was calling for the independent investigation "to make sure excessive force was not used against this unarmed individual."
The FBI has been tight-lipped in its public statements on the case. At the time of the shooting, the FBI said that an agent, along with two Massachusetts State Police troopers and other law enforcement personnel, were interviewing "an individual" in connection with the Boston bombing case when "violent confrontation was initiated by the individual."
Two law enforcement officials have also told USA TODAY that Todashev was being questioned about the unsolved 2011 murders of three men in Waltham, Mass.
ABC News reported last week that Todashev was about to sign a confession to the killings when he became violent.
Todashev has not been directly implicated in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260. The FBI has said only that Todashev, a martial arts enthusiast like Tsarnaev, knew the bombings suspect when he lived in Boston.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 27, and his brother, Dzhokhar, 19, were both named as suspects in the bombings. Tamerlan died three days after the April 15 bombings during a shootout with police that also left Dzhokhar injured.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was later captured and charged in connection with the bombings. He is being held at a prison medical center near Boston.