Society

FBI Says Agents Justified in 150 Shootings

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The New York Times reports that internal investigations into 150 FBI shootings found the agents to be justified in every single one.

Writers Charlie Savage and Michael Schmidt say the time-tested investigations into agent shootings are “predictable.” Researching 150 shootings — 70 of which were fatal — they found interviews and internal FBI records deemed the agent’s actions as justified. In fact, all the shootings by FBI agents from 1993 to early 2011 were documented as justifiable. The documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act suit.

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Of the 2,200 pages of records given to The New York Times, there were 289 deliberate FBI shootings documented. In two decades, no agent has been disciplined for a deliberate shooting.

Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska, told The Times that the number was “suspiciously low.”

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A 2002 case showed a man was shot in the head in Maryland after agents mistook him for a suspected bank robber. Agents surrounded 20-year-old Joseph Schultz’s car because he was wearing a white baseball cap. Schultz was shot in the jaw. The FBI paid $1.3 million to reconstruct Schultz’s face in 2007.

The internal review deemed Schultz’s shooting a “good shoot.” Only five of the cases were labeled as “bad shoots” when a weapon is discharged not in compliance with policy.

Christopher Braga, the agent who shot Shultz, said he believed that Schultz was reaching for a gun. Agents are permitted to use deadly force if they believe their lives of the lives of their colleagues are in danger.

Ibragim Todashev, 27, was questioned by the FBI in connection with a triple murder that took place in Waltham, Mass., on Sept. 11, 2011. There were conflicting reports about what happened the evening he was shot. Despite being unarmed when he died, he allegedly attacked the FBI agent.

Sources: NY Times, The Week