Dad of shot Chechen meets with U.S. Attorney in Tampa
Abdulbaki Todashev, right, listens as attorney Eric Ludin, not pictured, talks with the media after a meeting with U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley on Wednesday in downtown Tampa. Todashev’s son, Ibragim Todashev, was shot in his home in May while being questioned by law enforcement.
JASON BEHNKEN / STAFF
TAMPA — Acting U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley met Wednesday with the father of a Chechen immigrant shot to death in Orlando during questioning by the FBI and other agents about his ties to one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Bentley described the meeting as private and gave few details about what was discussed. “We listened to Mr. Todashev’s concerns, and we confirmed that the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is conducting an inquiry and that our office is going to be providing assistance as requested,” Bentley said. Abdulbaki Todashev, father of Ibragim Todashev, who was fatally shot in May, met Bentley in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown Tampa. One of his attorneys, who was also present, along with the local head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a translator, described the meeting as “a very open and frank conversation.”
“Mr. Bentley expressed his condolences to our client ... and assured us that this is going to be an extremely thorough investigation,” said Eric Ludin, a Clearwater attorney who, along with Barry Cohen of Tampa, is representing Abdulbaki Todashev. Ludin said he and Cohen would allow the federal investigation “to run its course” before making a decision on whether to pursue civil action. “Mr. Todashev was able to speak with Mr. Bentley at length about information he had regarding his son’s experience with the FBI ... and expressed his concerns that he believes his son was killed unjustly and without cause,” Ludin said. State Attorney Jeffrey Lashton in Orlando also is investigating the shooting. Abdulbaki Todashev, who is visiting the U.S. from Chechnya while the investigation is ongoing, met with Ashton last week, according to news reports. Ibragim Todashev, 27, was killed while being questioned in his Orlando home by FBI agents and investigators from Massachusetts and Florida. Authorities originally said Todashev lunged at an FBI agent with a knife. They later said it was no longer clear what happened. Ludin has said the FBI was questioning Todashev because he was acquainted with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers. On Wednesday, Ludin repeated his insistence that the two were not friends but merely two men from the same country who shared an interest in mixed martial arts and met in a Boston gym. “Beyond that, it’s just wrong to portray the two of them as having some kind of connection or suggesting that Mr. Todashev’s son is in any way connected to what happened in Boston,” Ludin said. Hassan Shibly, the executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said his group was also investigating the shooting and would provide “whatever we find” to the Justice Department and state attorney investigations. “This is about protecting due process of all Americans, ensuring police accountability and ensuring there is transparency, especially when a Florida resident gets his life cut short by a federal law enforcement officer here in Florida,” Shibly said. Ibragim Todashev was shot at least seven times by an FBI agent, Shibly said. That information came from family members, who washed his body as they prepared it for a traditional Muslim funeral, Shibly said. The medical examiner’s office in Orlando has not released the autopsy report, saying they cannot make the results public because of an ongoing FBI ongoing investigation. Through a translator, Abdulbaki Todashev said Wednesday that over the last few days in Tampa, “just like for every day since Ibragim’s death, the events of that night have not left my mind.”