News & Politics  
comments_image Comments

The FBI’s License to Kill: Agents Have Been Deemed 'Justified' in Every Shooting Since 1993

The FBI has cleared its agents in every single shooting incident dating back two decades.
 
 
Share

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

 
 
 
 

New documents reveal the FBI has cleared its agents in every single shooting incident dating back two decades. According to the New York Times, from 1993 until today, FBI shootings were deemed justified in the fatal shootings of 70 people and the wounding of 80 others. Out of 289 shootings that were found to be deliberate, no agent was disciplined except for letters of censure in five cases. Even in a case where the bureau paid a shooting victim more than a million dollars to settle a lawsuit, the internal review did not find the agent who shot the man culpable. The issue of FBI accountability has recently re-emerged following last month’s fatal shooting of Ibragim Todashev during questioning by agents in Orlando, Florida. He was reportedly unarmed. We speak to Charlie Savage, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter who co-reported the story.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: As President Obama prepares to nominate James Comey today to head the FBI, the agency is facing new questions over how it handles shootings involving FBI agents. A new look at the FBI’s internal destinations has found the bureau has cleared its agents in every single shooting incident dating back two decades. According to the  New York Times, from 1993 until today, the FBI shootings were deemed justified in the fatal shootings of 70 people and the wounding of 80 others.

Out of 289 shootings that are found to be deliberate, no agent was disciplined except for letters of censure in five cases. Even in a case where the bureau paid a shooting victim over $1 million to settle a lawsuit, the internal review did not find the agent who shot the man culpable.

AMY GOODMAN: The issue of FBI accountability has recently re-emerged following last month’s fatal shooting of Ibragim Todashev during questioning by agents in Orlando, Florida. A Chechen native, Todashev who was interrogated over his ties to one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.  The Washington Post and several TV news organizations reported he was unarmed, citing unnamed law enforcement officials.

On Thursday, I spoke to Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Charlie Savage, the Washington correspondent for  The New York Timeswho co-wrote the recent article called, "The FBI Deemed Agents Faultless in 150 Shootings." I began by asking Charlie Savage to lay out what he found.

 

CHARLIE SAVAGE: Well, before this recent shooting incident in Orlando, which remains murky, you said that the FBI admitted he was not armed. That’s one story. Another version is, he attacked an agent with a knife. And yet another one says he was brandishing a pole. All of these, or course, cited to anonymous law enforcement officials. So, who knows what happened in that room at this stage. Well before that incident, I’d been looking into FBIshooting incidents over many years, and in fact, we filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the internal records of FBI shooting reviews, every time an agent pulls a trigger, they conduct an internal review of that incident for all deliberate shootings dating back to 1993.

 

And of course, now it was suddenly very timely, because the FBI had just shot this man under very murky circumstances, and is typically the case when the FBI kills someone or shoots someone, local homicide detectives, in this case the Orlando police department, are not conducting an independent investigation to try to figure out what happened. They defer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate itself. What this enormous pile of documents that we eventually obtained, all delivered shooting incidents going back to 1993, showed was that in every instance in that 20 year span, where an FBI bullet hit someone, it either killed or wounded them, that was deliberately fired, the agency cleared the agent of any wrongdoing. Found that it was a justified shoot, a good shoot. There were five supposed what it would call bad shoes were agents received a letter of censure for things like firing a warning shot up a crowd. None of those involved anyone getting hit by a bullet.

 
See more stories tagged with:
fbi