(CN) – The family of a Florida man shot by an FBI agent during questioning over the Boston Marathon bombings has filed a wrongful death claim against the agency.
In a federal complaint filed in Orlando, Florida on May 22, the family of Ibragim Todashev says he died in May 2013 after FBI agent Aaron McFarlane shot him in his home while investigating his possible ties to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Chechen brothers involved in the marathon bombing and an unrelated triple murder.
Todashev’s family claims McFarlane shot the young man seven times as he attempted to leave the apartment during the interrogation.
The FBI has maintained Todashev was writing a confession to the triple murders when he tried to attack McFarlane with a metal rod, though the family denies the official version of events.
“After Todashev was dead, the agents tried to arrange the apartment to make it look like Todashev picked up a metal tube to use as a weapon but failed to get Todashev’s fingerprints on the tube,” the complaint states.
The family claims the agents conspired to kill Todashev and then covered up the evidence.
In addition to the U.S. government and McFarlane, the lawsuit names other authorities present during the shooting – FBI agent Christopher John Savard and two Massachusetts state troopers who were the lead investigators in the triple murder linked to Tsarnaev.
Much of the lawsuit centers on “a campaign of harassment” against Todashev in the weeks leading up to his death. According to the complaint, the FBI repeatedly questioned Todashev and his family about links to Tsarnaev, even though they only knew each other from the same Boston-area mixed martial arts gym. During one such interview, FBI agents arrested Todashev’s girlfriend, Tatyana Gruzdeva, for immigration violations. (She was later deported.) During this time, Gruzdeva’s roommate was also arrested and told to leave the country.
“The FBI failed to intervene in the campaign of harassment that McFarlane and Savard and others waged against Todashev, his friends, and family that ultimately resulted in Todashev’s wrongful death,” the complaint states.
In addition to the wrongful death claim, the family claims the FBI was negligent in hiring McFarlane and did not properly investigate the shooting.
The lawsuit details the alleged troubled history of FBI agent McFarlane, a former police officer for the Oakland Police Department. During his time as a cop, the complaint states, McFarlane was the subject of two police brutality lawsuits and four internal affairs investigations. He also invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a police corruption scandal.
After leaving the Oakland Police Department citing disability, McFarlane joined the FBI. He was still receiving disability payments when he shot Todashev.
The FBI declined to comment citing pending litigation. Massachusetts State Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Todashev’s family is represented by Tallahassee-based attorney James Cook and two attorneys from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Thania Diaz Clevenger and Tark Aouadi. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The complaint does not state the amount of damages requested, but an earlier administrative claim to the FBI cited $30 million.