New Details in the FBI Shooting Death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev Associate

Ibragim Todashev’s live-in girlfriend, Tatiana Gruzdeva, reveals what happened in the days leading up to the shooting in their Florida apartment.

Gruzdev told me that she is from Tiraspol, a town in the former Soviet country of Moldova. She had come to America in 2012 on a student work visa, which had since expired. “I said, ‘Come on guys, you cannot do this! You know my visa was expired and you didn’t do anything. And now because you need me and I say I don’t want to help you, you just call to immigration?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ And they called immigration and immigration came and they put me in the jail.”

A spokeswoman for Immigration and Citizenship Services said that ICE cannot release or confirm any details of an individual detention without a written waiver. Gruzdeva had signed such a waiver, the spokeswoman said, but it had since expired.

For the first week, Gruzdeva told me, she was kept in an immigration detention facility. She was allowed to talk to Todashev every day on the phone. She said he told her that when he had come to find her in the lobby the day she was detained, FBI agents mocked him, saying “Where’s your girlfriend?”

She said the mocking infuriated Todashev. “He said, ‘I want to hit them because I was so mad, why they lie to me? They stole you.’”

Later that week, the facility had a visiting day, she said. Todashev came to see her.

“He kissed me, he hugged me like never, it was so sweet, like always. And he tell me, ‘I will marry you when you get out of here, or in the jail, whatever. If we can marry in the jail, we will marry in the jail.’”

On May 22, Gruzdeva said, she was transferred from immigration jail to a cell in Glades County Jail in Moore Haven, Florida. There, she said, she was placed in solitary confinement.

“I thought I would be released, because I don’t have any crime, I don’t have any charges, I was clear,” she said. She asked why she had been moved. “And they just said, “Oh we cannot tell you, we’ll tell you tomorrow in the morning.”

She did not know it yet, but that was the day Todashev had been fatally shot by the FBI.

The next morning, she said, immigration officers and “other officers” came to her cell.

“They said, ‘He’s dead.’

“I said, ‘That’s not true. I just saw him a couple days ago and I talked with him yesterday. He cannot be dead.’

“They said, ‘He died yesterday.’

“I said, ‘No! I just talked with him.’

“They said, ‘We have a paper, and it says that he’s dead, and you can make a phone call.’”

She called her friend Husain, the one who had introduced them. He told her it was true: Todashev was dead.

“And I’m screaming. I have panic attack. I realize, I realize, he is really dead.” As she told me the story on the phone, she began to weep.

“And everything is flush in my heart, my heart was broken, because me and Ibragim we had a plan, we had a plan to be together, we had a plan to have a family. Yes we were different, we had a different culture, different religion, but it was ok, he tell me, everything will be ok, we’ll all figure it out. But he want to be with me and I want to be with him, we had a plan to have children and everything. And now, he’s not here and we’re not going to be together anymore.”

She said she was so distraught that she was given a sedative.

Gruzdeva was kept in solitary confinement for four more days, she said, before being placed in a women’s dormitory at the same prison.

Finally, on August 8, she was released from custody. She said Ashurmamad Miraliev, a friend of Todashev—the same man arrested on Wednesday—came to pick her up, along with Todashev’s father, Abdulbaki, who had flown to Florida from Chechnya to meet with prosecutors. They drove her back to the house she had shared with Todashev, where he had been killed. “They said, ‘Don’t worry the house is clean and we cleaned everything.’”

Miraliev became Gruzdeva’s roommate, she said, helping her to pay the rent. On Wednesday, the two of them were on their way to visit her immigration officer when they were stopped by the police. “It was police cars, police cars, police cars. Undercover people they just stop us with five police cars.” They arrested Miraliev. “They told me he was in Orange County jail,” she said. “I don’t know why they took him.”

Gruzdeva told me she is waiting for immigration to process a work authorization form she has applied for. “After I have my work authorization and social security I will move to a different state,” she said. “Or maybe different city. Because I cannot be here anymore. It’s too much for me .… It’s really painful every day to wake up now in this house.”

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Below: Video provided by Tatiana Gruzdeva, translated by Asya Calixto

F: Come on
[indiscernible, giggling]
F: Come on, please, put it on 
[he declines]
F: No 
[he declines]
F: But please, why?
F: Do you love me?
M: What does that have to do with it? [he looks at his hands]
F: Please, for me
F: Why are you being difficult?
M: I won’t put it on, I told you [indiscernible] I’m not being difficult
[She giggles]
[He speaks, indiscernible]
F: For me
M: For posterity’s sake?
F: Yes
[He speaks, indiscernible]
F: Yes
F: I’ll turn it off
[He speaks, indiscernible]
F: Come on, just for me, put it on and that’s it [zooms out]
F: Just for a second
F: Do it for me, as a gift
M: That’s no gift, let’s go
F: No, do it for me as a gift, please
F: But honey, come here
F: How about at least this one [shows party hat]
F: Just for a second
F: At least just put it up to your head, I want to see [he puts it on]
F: And now go, ‘lalala’