By Fire Tom Friedman On May 3, a diligent blogger was able to identify the mysterious FBI agent who shot and killed Ibragim Todashev as Aaron McFarlane, thanks to the fact that Florida's Ninth Circuit State Attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton doesn't properly black out names in his redacted report on the killing. As a result of that error, the same blog and the Boston Globe were able to discover that prior to joining the FBI, Todashev's killer was a violent and dirty Oakland cop. Now the Globe reports that the prosecutor who found that Todashev's killing was justified was unaware of McFarlane's history.
A spokesman for Ashton said this week that the FBI did not tell Ashton or his investigator about McFarlane’s past in Oakland.
“Mr. Ashton did not know any of the background of the officers,” spokesman Richard I. Wallsh said. “What we presented in our report was a full and exhaustive discussion of the information that we had in our possession.”
Even before Aaron McFarlane became a household name (in my house, at least, I say his name a lot), a quick search revealed that McFarlane was a former Oakland cop who was involved in one of the most notorious police corruption scandals in recent memory, and was the subject of two police brutality lawsuits. If Ashton didn't know McFarlane's background, either the man who flunked Redaction 101 has also yet to master the simple Google search, or he's remarkably incurious.
It would be nice if people would stop calling Ashton's regurgitation of FBI talking points an "independent" report. There's literally nothing in there that the FBI didn't want in there. The fact that Ashton -- who spent pages and pages detailing Todahsev's violent past including a rather bizarre obsession with his mixed martial art YouTube videos -- claims he didn't even know that the agent he was investigating was once accused of holding a man down while another cop stomped on him tells you all you need to know.
Ashton's job was never to get to the bottom of what happened to Todashev, but to polish a giant FBI turd and make the questions go away. And they almost did -- mainstream media coverage about Todashev's death basically stopped after Ashton published his "findings." But now, thanks to Ashton's incompetent redactions, maybe even our timid journalist class will find the courage to starting asking questions again. They can start with this one:
"Mr. Ashton, why didn't you Google Aaron McFarlane?"
This article was originally published at Fire Tom Friedman's blog.