Barry Cohen to represent Todashev family in FBI shooting case

Ibragim Todashev, a friend of Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in May while being interrogated by law enforcement officials.

Ibragim Todashev was a Chechen-American former mixed martial artist, and a friend of the alleged Boston Marathon bomber and former amateur boxer, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The 27 year old was killed five weeks after the Boston bombings while he was being questioned by a Boston-based FBI agent, Massachusetts state troopers and other law-enforcement officers.

Originally, the FBI said Todashev initiated a "violent confrontation" during the questioning at a condo near Universal Orlando. But conspiracy rumors have flourished since the incident, and the ACLU in both Massachusetts and Florida, as well as members of Todashev's family, have been calling for law enforcement authorities to review what happened on that fateful day.

Their calls for accountability were answered last week when Orange County State Attorney Jeff Ashton announced he will review the circumstances that led to Todashev's death. Today in Tampa,  Abdulabaki Todashev, Ibrahim's father, spoke at a press conference.

"He was very good boy," Todashev said through a translator. "I hope and pray that no mother or father will have to endure what I'm going through right now. My son was a very good boy, and he is innocent and he was killed."

Todashev was speaking from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Tampa-based offices, where it was revealed that superstar Tampa attorney Barry Cohen and Clearwater attorney Eric Ludin will represent the Todashev family. Cohen wasn't at the press conference, but Ludin said that they'll hold off on pursuing legal action for a possible wrongful death suit against the FBI until the investigation in Orange County is completed — though he hinted that a civil lawsuit may be filed later.

Yvette Acosta MacMillan with the Florida ACLU said her organization has been calling for an independent investigation into Todashev's death, but they've been rebuffed by the FBI, who she said could not be trusted to do the investigation alone. 

To back up her claim, MacMillan cited a New York Times story published in June that reported from 1993 to early 2011, FBI agents fatally shot about 70 “subjects” and wounded about 80 others — and every one of those episodes was deemed justified.

Adding to the paranoia is the fact that the FBI has barred the Todashev family from receiving the medical examiner's report.

"We are seeking a fair and thorough investigation, " said Hassan Shibley with the Tampa office of CAIR. "The bottom line — and I think something that we can all agree on — is Ibragim Todashev should have never have been killed, and we need to understand why that happened, and what can be done to ensure this never happens again, and also to bring justice to his family."

There have been a variety of reports about what happened on May 22. One report alleged that Todashev had come after an FBI agent with a knife after confessing to a murder committed with Tsarnaev three years earlier in Waltham, Mass.

"Mr. Cohen and I agreed to represent the Todashev family because we believe the people in this country, regardless of their religion, their race, their ethnicity and their immigrant status, deserve to be treated fairly by our government and law enforcement," said Ludin.

Continuing to speak through a translator, Abdulabaki Todashev talked for a few moments, reading handwritten text he had composed on yellow lined paper. He did not take any questions. 

Shibley said several times during the news conference that Ibragim Todashev was shot seven times during his interrogation with law officers. Shibley said he had seen photos of Todashev's body, which showed "over a dozen" bullet wounds, but he added that he could not confirm the number. He said that's why CAIR is not releasing its own investigation about what happened. Not yet anyhow. Shibley added that CAIR has contacts within the justice department, which has provided information to them.

"Our sources have said that he was unarmed during the incident," Hassan added. Ludin then said that the legal team for the Todashev's would not speak again about what happened during the incident until the state attorney's investigation is complete.

A reporter commented that there didn't seem to be a lot of sympathy for the Boston Marathon bombing victims at the press conference; Shibley begged to differ.

"We've received an overwhelming amount of support, especially from the Boston community and the public at large where people say 'hey, we don't want to live in a country where federal officers can just kill somebody in their own home without coming out for the record and explaining why that happened,'" he replied.

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