Friday, May 16, 2014

FBI Agent Who Shot And Killed Boston Marathon Bomber's Friend During Interrogation Had Troubling Past

The FBI and law enforcement officials in Florida had for months refused to identify the FBI agent who fatally shot and killed Ibragim Todashev, a friend of one of the accused Boston Marathon bombers, during a lengthy investigation at an Orlando, Florida apartment on year ago. When a Florida prosecutor released a report last month exonerating the FBI official of any wrongdoing in shooting the unarmed suspect, the names of the FBI agent and the Massachusetts' state troopers in the room with him were redacted from the report. The Boston Globe learned the names of the officers by removing the electronically-created redactions from the report released by the Florida prosecutor's office. It turns out that the FBI agent who shot Todashev, Aaron McFarlane, had a very troubling record as a police officer in Oakland, California before retiring from that city's police department at the age of 31.

According to the Globe, McFarlane, who is now 41, during a four-year span at the Oakland police department took the Fifth Amendment during a police corruption trial and was the subject of two police brutality lawsuits and four internal affairs investigations. California lawyers who had sued McFarlane told the Globe they were stunned to learn that McFarlane had obtained a job working for the FBI. The Florida prosecutor who investigated the shooting, Jeffrey Ashton, was not allowed to interview McFarlane. Instead, Ashton's report relied on statements McFarlane had given to the FBI that were later provided to Ashton. Both Ashton and the FBI refused to comment to the Globe about McFarlane's troubling record as an Oakland police officer.

McFarlane and two state troopers, all involved in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing, had rushed to Todashev's apartment in Orlando last May after learning that the friend of the elder bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police in Watertown days after the bombing, planned to return to Russia. Interestingly, McFarlane and the two state troopers wanted to question Todashev about an unrelated triple homicide that had occurred in Boston two years earlier that they believed the bombing suspects may have committed, not the actual Boston bombing. Todashev was nowhere near Boston at the time of the bombings. Todashev's family and friends say that Todashev was still recovering at the time from knee surgery he had undergone weeks earlier when McFarlane and the two state troopers descended on his Orlando apartment and began interrogating him without his attorney present.

McFarlane and the two state troopers claim that Todashev had agreed to provide a written confession to his role in the triple homicide after hours of interrogation when he suddenly overturned a coffee table, striking McFarlane, who then shot Todashev multiple times, including one gunshot wound to the back of the head. Following the shooting, federal law enforcement officials released conflicting information anonymously to reporters, some of which claimed that Todashev had been armed with a knife or a sword or a metal object of some sort. According to the Florida prosecutor's report, Todashev had grabbed a broomstick handle after overturning the coffee table when McFarlane repeatedly shot him. Ashton complained to reporters that false news reports about the shooting coming from FBI sources had complicated his investigation.

During McFarlane's tenure at the Oakland police department, he was called as a witness at a police corruption trial at which police officers had been accused of beating and kidnapping people, making false arrests, planting evidence and falsifying police reports. No police officers were convicted during the trial, but the department settled lawsuits stemming from the case for $10.9 million and the department remains under court supervision today as a result of the case.

While testifying for the defense, McFarlane was questioned during cross-examination about falsifying a report in order to arrest a man by the lead prosecutor. McFarlane took the Fifth Amendment. McFarlane was also questioned about the head injuries an arrestee suffered while being taken into custody. According to the police report, McFarlane had claimed he did not know the man had been injured. In another arrest, McFarlane and two other officers were accused of stomping on an arrestee's head, injuring his eye and breaking his nose. McFarlane repeatedly suffered injuries while on the department's police force, including a broken leg and ankle. He retired on a medical disability at the age of 31 and is drawing a pension of $52,000 a year for the rest of his life after working for the police department only four years.

McFarlane and the two state troopers involved in interrogating Todashev claimed that he confessed to the killings after four hours of interrogation, all caught on camera; however, they claim they stopped recording the video after Todashev had agreed to put his confession into writing. The FBI has refused to release the video the officers claim to have recorded. The Globe notes that McFarlane's name came up multiple times during the newspaper's reporting of the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings, indicating that he played a key role in the investigation of the Tsarnaev brothers, who will now know had been visited by FBI officers on numerous occasions over a several year period prior to the bombings last year despite the agency's initial claim they did not know their identity when they released photographs of the two suspects to the public, which led to the shootout with police in Watertown hours later during which Tamerlan was killed. Video later surfaced showing Tamerlan being taken alive by police after he had been stripped naked, making police claims that he was later shot in a shootout with police and run over by a fleeing vehicle driven by his younger brother seem incredulous.

The younger brother, Dzhokhar, was found hiding in a boat the following day behind a house where Todashev had once lived. Police initially claimed he was heavily armed inside the boat and exchanged gunfire with police, claims which turned out to be totally false, to explain the severe injuries the younger brother suffered from flash bangs and shots fired by police. Attorneys representing him are now trying to suppress statements FBI agents obtained from him at his hospital bedside while he was heavily sedated despite his repeated requests for an attorney.


Flogger said...

Hard to believe McFarland is drawing a disability considering he is employed by the FBI and passed their physical. Just as hard to believe the FBI would have hired McFarland considering his history. No surprise that Boys in Blue cruised away from this killing.

Marycatherine Barton said...

As of today, according to Indiana 'local' news reports, Indiana police are armed to the teeth against returning military veterans. Lee Ann McAdoo covers this topic in last nights Nightly News at, and Paul Watson has written an article about this horror, featured at Isn't that lovely!