FBI Releases Video Of Shooting Death Of Oregon Militia Member

by
Reuters
Anti-government militants held their ground at an Oregon wildlife refuge on Friday, a day after the FBI released a video of the fatal shooting of one of the protesters.

As the standoff with federal authorities neared the end of its fourth week, Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Portland office, said on Thursday night authorities were trying to negotiate with the four holdouts.

They are holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 30 miles (48 km) from Burns, a small ranching community in the state's rural southeast.

The occupation's jailed leader, Ammon Bundy, has issued two messages through his attorney urging the remaining protesters to stand down, saying the group would continue their fight against federal land policy in court.

The takeover began on Jan. 2 when Bundy and at least a dozen followers occupied buildings at the refuge in a flare-up in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres in the West.

The FBI took the unusual step on Thursday of releasing aerial video footage of the shooting of 54-year-old Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher from Arizona who had acted as a spokesman for the occupiers.

The video was shown at a news conference hours after a lawyer for Finicum's family said other evidence may exist that shows the protester was not threatening authorities.

On Tuesday, some of the group's most recognizable members, including Bundy, were stopped by the FBI and Oregon State Police as they headed to a speaking event. They were arrested, while Finicum sped from the scene before being shot.

VIDEO OF SHOOTING

Authorities said Finicum was armed when he was killed. Video from a law enforcement aircraft shows him fleeing from authorities in a white truck, nearly striking an officer while trying to evade a police barricade, then barreling into a deep snowbank and exiting the car.

The grainy footage shows Finicum raising his hands and then turning and flailing his arms. He then lowers his arms to his body and is shot by Oregon State Police troopers, according to the FBI.

Bretzing said Finicum can be seen reaching for his jacket pocket, where officers found a handgun. But the lack of focus in the video makes it hard to discern Finicum's precise movements before the shooting.

"Based on some things that I've seen, I think there is potentially a completely different side to the story compared to what is being represented," Finicum family attorney Todd Macfarlane told Reuters. He could not be reached for reaction to the FBI video release.

Macfarlane said one of the sources for his view was the version of events from Victoria Sharp, who says she was at the scene and watched Finicum die.

Sharp said in an interview with Reuters that Finicum was shot with his gun in his holster and his hands in the air, shouting and walking toward police.

Neither state nor federal law enforcement would comment on whether Sharp was at the scene or on her description. Reuters was not able to independently confirm her version of the events.

Bundy and the protesters arrested with him are being held without bail and are due to appear for a detention hearing on Friday afternoon in federal court in Portland, Oregon.

A legal defense fund for Bundy that was set up online by his lawyers this week and aims to raise $100,000 had received total donations of about $2,000 by Friday morning.