Federal, state and local authorities told the news media today, in a wide ranging press conference, in so many words, that Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupier and Arizona Rancher Lavoy Finicum brought deadly force upon himself when, as he drove north on Highway 395 toward a John Day town hall meeting, he refused to obey orders to get down on the ground during a traffic stop/roadblock. And that officers had reasonable suspicion he was reaching for his 9mm semi-automatic pistol he carried in a left, chest-high holster, which was, in fact, found on Finicum’s body. “The shooting death of Lavoy Finicum was justified,” was the opinion of the the District Attorney of Harney County, the Deschutes County special crimes investigation team along with top state and federal authorities.
There was, however, a surprise announcement that there is a parallel investigation going on into the fact that two other shots were fired by FBI agents that were never disclosed to investigators – neither at the time of Finicum’s confrontation with officers nor reported by those same FBI agents after the incident. One of the FBI agents’ bullets was fired just as Finicum was exiting his vehicle – the bullet hitting the roof of Finicum’s vehicle – the other landing in an unknown area. Federal officials say they continue to investigate the circumstances of that part of the incident. It was said by law enforcement that the nature of the investigation is to determine whether there was any misconduct on the part of those FBI agents. Their names have not been released nor the names of the two OSP officers that fatally shot Finicum.
The news media was shown not only the video shot from an FBI aircraft that clearly showed Finicum getting out of his pickup and not complying with orders to go “on the ground! on the ground!” Occupier Shawna Cox, inside Finicum’s vehicle, took video of the entire confrontation from the moment Finicum’s pickup hit the snowbank to the moment Finicum was shot and mortally wounded. The aerial video shows Finicum spinning around, refusing orders to go down “on the ground,” then reaching inside his jacket on his left side where officers believed he had a holstered semi-automatic pistol. It was then that two OSP troopers behind him opened fire. Finicum was hit three times – one on his right side just above his waist – the other two into the rear of his left shoulder. Officers at the news conference strongly hinted that Finicum did not suffer on the ground – that he died fairly quickly.
There was no timeline given as to when the investigation of the alleged too quick-to-shoot FBI agents might render a final report. Both agents remain on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.