Muslim group calls for probe of FBI agent in Orlando shooting

ORLANDO, Florida Wed May 14, 2014 3:20pm EDT

Ibragim Todashev is pictured in this undated booking photo courtesy of the Orange County Corrections Department. REUTERS/Orange County Corrections Department/Handout via Reuters

Ibragim Todashev is pictured in this undated booking photo courtesy of the Orange County Corrections Department.

Credit: Reuters/Orange County Corrections Department/Handout via Reuters

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ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A Muslim civil rights group is demanding an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and state officials into what it calls the "checkered history" of the FBI agent recently cleared in the fatal 2013 shooting of Ibragim Todashev, an acquaintance of one of the accused Boston Marathon bombers.

"If the DOJ and the State Attorney's offices did not know about the agent's history, how can the public trust the thoroughness and reliability of the investigation?" Hassan Shibley, director of the Florida chapter of the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), wrote in a letter this week to the civil rights office of the Department of Justice.

Shibley also sent letters to the FBI director and the State Attorney in Orlando asking if they knew about the agent's past.

Todashev, an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in May 2013 while voluntarily sitting for an interview in his Orlando home with an agent from the FBI and a Massachusetts state police officer.

State Attorney Jeff Ashton, who had jurisdiction over the shooting, concluded that Todashev was writing a statement after a long interview when he suddenly attacked the agent and officer.

Neither Ashton's office, the Department of Justice nor the FBI responded on Wednesday to requests for comment. All three agencies kept the identities of the agent and officer secret.

The Boston Globe identified the agent as Aaron McFarlane, 41, formerly with the Oakland Police Department in California.

According to the Globe on Wednesday, and old newspaper clippings and court records included in a CAIR press release, the FBI agent, while a police officer in Oakland, invoked his constitutional right not to answer questions under oath as a witness in a police corruption trial, and was also the subject of two settled police brutality cases in 2003.

"How credible and thorough are the DOJ and State Attorney's investigations - which relied heavily on testimony given by individuals who may have engaged in police misconduct, civil rights abuses, and evidence falsification?" Shibley wrote in his letter to the DOJ.

(Editing by David Adams and Gunna Dickson)

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