Everyone else seems to have stopped thinking about the mysterious death of Ibragim Todashev, the friend to the Boston bombing suspects who was shot in his Florida home while being interviewed by FBI men and "law enforcement officers." Though others may wander away from this story, I can't yet let it go.
If you aren't up to speed on this remarkable incident, you may want to read this
before you study what follows.
A friend to this blog -- call him Bill -- knows weaponry. He has looked at the "best evidence" in the case, the photos of Todashev's bullet-ridden body
-- photos which I hesitate to reproduce here. (In the past, I've reproduced grisly images, only to regret doing so.)
Bill takes issue with my presumption regarding the head shot. Since one can see an entrance wound in the very top of the skull, and no large exit defect, I presumed that Todashev was shot as he fell forward. I did not interpret the head shot as a classic "coup de grace."
Bill begs to differ...
Do you know the caliber of the gun used to kill him? I can’t find it on the net. I’d really like to know the bullet size and type of bullet design.
If I had to guess, I would proffer either 9mm or .40cal., A safe bet as those are far and away the two most common handgun calibers issued by modern-day law-enforcement departments. However .45cal. also continues to be highly regarded by those LE personnel allowed the option of carrying a duty weapon chambered in .45ACP.
Surprisingly, normal 45ACP ammo is not high-powered. It is in fact notable for being an especially low velocity round, much slower than the smaller 9mm cartridge. The .45ACP round relies on the substantial size and mass of the bullet to instantly transfer a huge amount of kinetic energy when it hits. This produces a hammer-blow effect that usually is overwhelming and very intimidating. Suddenly you want to stop whatever you’re doing and just go to the nearest hospital. At the same time the large slug also creates a generous wound channel that encourages sudden rapid blood loss with an accompanying drop in blood pressure such that if a 45ACP bullet enters the torso at pretty much any point, complete incapacitation almost always soon follows.
The majority of modern LE departments now issue hollow-point bullets as standard equipment. Once thought to be inhumane and cruel, modern handgun hollow-points are actually today considered the safest round to use in civilian settings because they’re specifically engineered to minimize the chance of bullet over-penetration. They are carefully designed to not exit the body which means less risk to bystanders. It would be highly unusual for LE personnel to be using high-powered cartridges in any handgun round. Normal powered commercial hollow-point handgun ammo tends to be the universal standard. I’m not saying hotter handgun loads are unheard of, but the general view by professionals is that anything more powerful than a standard commercial load could too easily result in bullets passing through bodies or solid barriers like stud-walls with sufficient residual power to seriously wound or kill bystanders.
Contrary to popular misconceptions, modern handgun hollow-point ammo does not ordinarily produce exit wounds that are “large and messy.” Yes, high-powered rifle rounds will definitely do that sort of thing big time, but not so for standard issue self-defense handgun rounds. It is common place for an exit wound from a LE handgun hollow-point to be quite clean compared to the hideously cavernous wound produced upon exit by a typical non-hollow-point high-velocity rifle bullet such as a .30-06 Springfield, or the smaller .223 Remington.
The general rule of thumb for a handgun hollow-point is that the maximum diameter of the exit wound is about twice the diameter of the bullet prior to its being fired. So a 9mm HP would normally produce an exit wound no wider than 18mm. For a variety of reasons, HP bullets often do not fully expand.
Of course, I don’t have a way of knowing this conclusively, but I can’t come up with a believable reason for thinking that Todashev’s head wound was anything other than an intentional, coldblooded, execution style money-shot.
My supposition is that the meeting where he died was actually a preplanned hit. My guess is that there’s something explosive that some government organization desperately wants to keep buried, -- literally -- because dead people are tops when it comes to keeping secrets.
I don’t understand Joe why you postulate that Todashev was falling from a standing position when he fortuitously got popped in the noggin? That strikes me as so improbable. Can you explicate?
I think a more likely scenario is that once Todashev’s executioner was ready to make him into the perfect soul of discretion, he asked the two officers to step outside for a minute. With them gone, he then drew his sidearm and pumped a heaping helping of point-blank rounds into Todashev’s upper torso, while Todashev was seated, off-guard, in no position to offer effective resistance. These shots knocked him out, possibly killing him. Anyway, he was out cold, but still seated and his head sagged down so that his chin was resting against his chest. Alternatively, perhaps he slumped forward in his chair so his forehead rested on the surface of a table. Or who knows, maybe he just collapsed on the floor in a heap. Whatever the case, the top of Todashev’s head offered an irresistible invitation to plug him one more time in order to make absolutely certain this would be strictly a morgue job.
I do not find it at all surprising that the head shot produced no exit wound. As I already mentioned, a standard requirement for LE handgun ammunition is that it not be high-powered. Furthermore, handgun ammo used by LE is specifically designed to mitigate bullets exiting and the risk of injury to bystanders.
Once any bullet including a jacketed hollow-point pierces the top of the skull it enters the semi-gelatinous medium of the brain, where it begins dissipating its momentum causing it to slow. From that point, any LE handgun slug, especially a JHP bullet would have been halted by and become lodged in the extensive boney sinus structures which surround and buttress the floor and front portion of the cranial-vault.
But even if the bullet somehow managed to get past the skull’s substantial obstacles, rather than exiting, the round could very easily have come to rest in the fairly dense connective tissues and musculature of the neck, which also contains the seven cervical vertebrae.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your reconstruction of what happened, particularly if you have expertise in firearms or forensic science. There's something particularly discomforting in the thought of FBI agents shooting a seated man whose head has slumped forward...