|Aaron McFarlane (left) and Ibragim Todashev (center)
News of the investigation by Oakland officials comes after the Globe last week identified McFarlane as the FBI agent who shot and killed an unarmed Ibragim Todashev after he and two Massachusetts state troopers spent hours interrogating him in an Orlando apartment. Incredibly, Todashev was not handcuffed during the more than four-hour long interrogation despite the fact that the law enforcement agents were supposedly questioning him about his alleged role in an unsolved triple homicide in Boston that occurred two years prior to the Boston Marathon bombing and allegedly involved the Tsarnaev brothers, the two principal suspects in the bombing case. McFarlane claims that Todashev, who was still recovering from recent knee surgery, took him by surprise after confessing to his role in the crime while writing out his confession by overturning a coffee table that struck him in the head. McFarlane claims he shot Todashev multiple times in self-defense after he began wielding a metal pole, now identified as a broomstick handle, including one gunshot wound to the back of his head.
The Globe revealed that McFarlane had a very troubled past during his short tenure with the Oakland police department. He once took the Fifth Amendment while testifying in a police corruption case where prosecutors accused him of falsifying police reports. McFarlane was also the subject of at least two police brutality lawsuits brought against the department by arrestees which were settled for more than $10 million. The Globe reports that news that McFarlane later obtained a job working for the FBI while receiving a medical disability pension has struck a raw nerve in the financially-plagued city:
Disclosure of McFarlane’s pension has struck a nerve in Oakland, a Northern California city of 400,000 beset by high crime and a tight budget. Over the last decade, Oakland has slashed 720 city jobs, including dozens of police officers; closed firehouses for days at a time; and limited basic services such as code enforcement and fixing streets, city records show. The city’s unfunded pension liability is nearly $1.5 billion.
This week, the president of the Oakland City Council, Patricia Kernighan, expressed “real frustration that Oakland is still paying a disability pension to somebody that is still working in law enforcement.”
She said she also asked her staff to look into McFarlane’s pension. “We want to make sure that people who are truly disabled on the job get fair compensation,” Kernighan said. “But we certainly don’t want to be paying able-bodied people for a disability that they don’t have with public funds.”A report prepared by a prosecutor in Orlando exonerated McFarlane of any wrongdoing even though the prosecutor admits that he and his investigators were never allowed to question McFarlane. Florida prosecutor Jeffrey Ashton, who redacted McFarlane's name and the names of the other two state troopers who participated in the interrogation from his report at the request of the FBI, now claims that he knew nothing about McFarlane's troubled past. The FBI still insists on describing McFarlane as a "hero" for supposedly saving the life of a fellow law enforcement officer for his quick action in killing Todashev as it refuses to answer any questions about how he ever became an FBI agent in the first place. The Globe reports that McFarlane spent four years working as a licensed real estate appraiser in San Francisco after leaving the Oakland police department in 2004 before joining the FBI in 2008.
McFarlane's worth to the FBI going forward in light of these disclosures is very much in question. It's worth noting the untimely deaths of other key law enforcement officials involved in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. In May of last year, two members of the FBI's elite counterterrorism unit involved in the capture of Dzhokhar plunged to their deaths after falling out a helicopter during a training exercise. Special Agents Christopher Lorek and Stephen Shaw's deaths occurred while they were receiving training on how to quickly drop from a helicopter to a ship using a rope. Last month, Boston police officer Dennis Simmonds died unexpectedly after suffering a medical emergency. Simmonds, who was described as a "health nut," was recently honored for bravery for his role in the shootout in Watertown last year with the Tsarnaev brothers during which Tamerlan was allegedly shot by police before being run over by a fleeing car driven by Dzhokhar. The Watertown shooting never added up after video emerged showing police taking Tamerlan into custody alive after he had been stripped naked, handcuffed and put in the backseat of a police car. Yet another local police officer involved in the investigation died last month from injuries he sustained from a single-vehicle accident involving a motorcycle driven by the police officer while on-duty. Some are now questioning what, if any, role McFarlane may have had in the unexplained execution of MIT police officer Sean Collier on the night of the shootout in Watertown, which police have attempted to blame on the Tsarnaev brothers.
In another development, NBC News reports that new filings by federal prosecutors in the pending trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev indicate that he and his deceased brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, required the assistance of others to build the explosive devices they are accused of setting off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last year. Prosecutors admit that law enforcement officials were unable to find any trace evidence of key ingredients used in the preparation of the bombs in the homes they lived, their cars or other places with which they were associated, suggesting that someone else built the bombs. That means there is a strong likelihood that others persons responsible for building the bombs are walking around free today, but there has been no indication that federal law enforcement officers are holding anyone other than the two Tsarnaev brothers responsible for the bombings. Friends of Dzohkhar were arrested and charged for removing a backpack from his college dormitory room after the bombings which may have contained legal fireworks and lying to law enforcement officers about it, but federal prosecutors have not alleged any of those individuals played a role in the bomb plot.
In those same filings, prosecutors urged a federal judge to reject arguments by Tsarnaev's lawyers that statements he supposedly gave in his hospital bed while heavily sedated from life-threatening injuries should be suppressed. Government prosecutors claim that Tsarnaev readily admitted his role in the bombings as he remained "responsive, coherent and clearheaded" throughout the hours of interrogation. Federal prosecutors also claim that Tsarnaev handwrote a confession note in the boat where he was found hiding prior to his apprehension in which he supposedly declared, "we Muslims are one body." Writing about his dead brother he said was shot and killed by police, he said, "I do not mourn because his soul is very much alive. God has a plan for each person. Mine was to hide in this boat and shed some light on our actions." So why would a supposed Muslim write a note referring to "God" rather than "Allah?" Yet another stupid mistake behind this hoax that is sinking the bomber hiding in the boat narrative.