As the federal criminal trial of James “Whitey” Bulger comes to a close, at least for the first time, it might be time to start thinking about our federal criminal law enforcers. After all, while Mr Bulger was the featured “bad guy” in the government’s own case, the FBI of not so long ago did not exactly come out smelling like a rose.
More like rotting sewage.
No doubt the Bureau, along with its sister agencies, did a lot of good things while they were also protecting rapist, thieves and murderers. On the other hand, given the amount of power they have over our lives, it seems a rather frightening choice to blindly give them a “pass”. Well, this Boston criminal lawyer would love to tell you that we learn from our mistakes.
But do we? Maybe not so much.
Remember that alleged cohort of the surviving Boston Marathon Bomber? The man’s name was Ibragim Todashev (hereinafter, the “Deceased”). According to the FBI, they went to Florida to question him about the accused bombers as well as his role in potentially other crimes. According to federal law enforcement, he was fine during most of the interrogation, but then lunged at agents toward the end of it. Being that the room was full of federal, Massachusetts and Florida law enforcers, one might have expected that he could have been subdued by means less permanent than bullets.
On the other hand, it seems that accounts of the events which led to the Deceased’s killing have become a bit cloudy. At first, law enforcement said that he had lunged at them with a knife. More recently, they stated that it was no longer clear what had happenned. They did know, though, that they should decline to discuss it further.
Various organizations, such as the ACLU requested had requesmuddying independent investigation last week. FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey declined that request in Tuesday’s letter and directed future inquiries to the FBI or the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
”This is an active federal investigation,” Bailey wrote. ”It would be inappropriate for FDLE to intervene.”
Not surprisingly, the FBI remainS tight-lipped about the incident. In fact, they have gone out of their way to make sure that nobody else’s lips open up either.
A Florida medical examiner’s office said Tuesday that the FBI has ordered the office not to release its autopsy report of the Deceased because of the federal agency’s active internal investigation into his death.
The medical examiner’s office said it completed the autopsy report on Ibragim Todashev, a friend of suspected Boston Marathon bomber, on July 8 and that the report was “ready for release.” however, “The FBI has informed this office that the case is still under active investigation and thus not to release the document,” Tony Miranda, forensic records coordinator for Orange and Osceola counties in Orlando, said in a letter to the media. Miranda said state law bars his office from releasing the report if an criminal investigation is ongoing.
The FBI and the Justice Department are conducting an internal inquiry into the shooting, but critics have called for an independent inquiry, questioning the blanket of secrecy surrounding the case.
According to media reports, the Deceased was about to sign a confession implicating himself and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who is now dead, in the 2011 slayings of three men in Waltham. Instead, accordingbto initial reports, the Deceased lunged at the agent, who was injured. The agent shototheseto Deceased multiple times.
Family members of the Deceased and advocacy groups have questioned the media accounts, pointing out that Todashev had repeatedly cooperated with the FBI and had been weakened by recent knee surgery.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the ACLU have called for independent inquiries into the shooting.
The council said in a letter to the Department of Justice, which oversees the FBI and is participating in the internal inquiry, that FBI agents had approached the Deceased in an aggressive manner. In one instance, the council said, six law enforcement agents drew their guns and pushed the Deceased to the ground.
Attorney Sam’s Take On The Danger To You When Law Enforcers Are Beyound Suspicion
Gee, that’s funny…! In my experience, when law enforcement goes out to interrogate a suspect, they usually video, or at least audio, record the interview. I guess they were out of batteries. Too bad, too. Imagine what we would be able to hear if it had been recorded.
Imagine, too, how clear the recording would have been if it showed what the FBI wanted us to hear.
But I digress.
This is a criminal law blog. My primary purpose is to educate the reader about the realities of today’s criminal justice system. It is not a political blog looking to bash government agencies.
In my experience of over a quarter century, law enforcers intend to do what they believe is “right”. However, what law enforcers believe is “right” is not always right. Just like the rest of us, they can make mistakes in judgment. They do, after all, work in a more complicated world than they may have realized when deciding to whatever force or agency they now serve.
This is why cover-ups and attitudes of “the ends justify the means” prevail so often.
Us. It is up to US to demand that, where appropriate, someone watches the watchers.
What does today’s story have to do with you?
It serves as yet another reminder of why the criminal justice system is not a level playing field. Those with the power are given even more power by the assumption of being above suspicion. This is not only true when it comes to the FBI or terrorism. It continues all the way down to the simplest vehicular criminal charge where law enforcement is the prosecution witness.
This is why the age-old belief of “If I just tell the truth, I will be ok” can no longer be relied on. This is the legal system where, despite how many cases reveal wrong doing and deceitful conduct on the part of law enforcement on all levels, we continue to enforce laws which specifically allow investigators to law in any way they see fit in their interviews, yet make it a felony if a civilian lies to them.
So what do you do?
If you have any interest on either eliminating or at least lessening the effects of criminal charges and/or convictions and the resulting losses…there is only one thing to do.
Get an experienced criminal defense attorney at the first possible moment you even sniff the faintest odor of a criminal investigation or charge coming your way.
To read the original stories upon this blog is based, please go http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/07/31/fdle-says-probe-into-shooting-chechen/1FKe6R4XYT5AC2iblaKVSJ/story.html and http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/07/16/fbi-bars-florida-from-releasing-autopsy-report-shooting-todashev-friend-marathon-bombing-suspect/a4SrWikbRpc2fbronJGLVJ/story.html