In an effort to bring some transparency to the events surrounding the fatal shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum as law enforcement officers arrested several members of the group that have occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, for nearly a month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a 26-minute raw, unedited video Thursday of the incident.
“We know there is quite a bit of interest related to the events as they occurred on Highway 395 on Tuesday afternoon,” Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon, said in a statement Thursday. “We know there are various versions of what occurred during this event: most inaccurate, some inflammatory. To that end, we want to do what we can to lay out an honest and unfiltered view of what happened and how it happened.”
Bretzing confirmed that agents with the FBI and troopers with the Oregon State Police initiated actions Tuesday around 4:25 p.m. to bring into custody several members of the group as they drove from Burns to a community meeting in John Day.
The group traveled in two separate vehicles. A Jeep was occupied by the driver, who was not arrested and therefore not named, as well as Ammon Bundy and Brian Cavalier. The second vehicle was a white pickup truck driven by Finicum and also occupied by Ryan Payne, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, and another woman who was not arrested and therefore not named. For nearly half an hour, the movements of both vehicles were tracked and aerial video of the events – including the shooting – were captured by the FBI.
Law enforcement officers pull behind the vehicles in an effort to initiate a traffic stop. The Jeep, which was the second in line, almost immediately pulled over and the driver of the Jeep, Ammon Bundy and Cavalier all exited the vehicle and were taken into custody without incident.
The truck driven by Finicum continued on for a distance before initially stopping. While the truck was stopped, Payne exited the vehicle with his hands up and was taken into custody without incident. After Payne got out of the vehicle, it remained parked in the middle of the road for several minutes, during such time numerous commands were made for the occupants to exit the vehicle, but those demands went unheeded.
Soon thereafter, Finicum began to drive away at a high rate of speed and traveled on for some distance before he met a road block where spike strips had been deployed. In an apparent effort to avoid the spike strips – and the roadblock – he swerved, nearly hitting an FBI agent, before getting stuck in a snowbank on the side of the road.
Around the 9:20 mark in the video, Finicum can be seen as he exited the truck. Initially, he held his hands in the air, but then, as the video shows, he reached his right hand toward the left side of his jacket at least two times. Given his close proximity to the officers and prior knowledge of the subjects being armed, troopers acted and fired at Finicum, who immediately fell to the ground.
Flash bangs and OC capsules, which contain a substance similar to pepper spray, were then deployed in an effort to disorient the other individuals in the vehicle, who were subsequently taken into custody. Once authorities were confident there was no remaining threat, which took about 10 minutes, they tended to Finicum and offered medical assistance.
Finicum was found with a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in his left coat pocket. Inside the vehicle, authorities recovered two .223-caliber semi-automatic rifles and a .38 Special, all of which were loaded.
“I want to acknowledge the stress and disruption that the occupation of the refuge has caused has to the people of Harney County,” Bretzing concluded. “We know this is difficult. We know that you want this concluded as soon as possible. We are doing everything we can to bring this to a resolution safely and quickly.”
Bretzing confirmed that, in line with typical protocol and Oregon State law, the Deschutes County Major Incident Team is conducting an independent investigation into the shooting death of Finicum and the use of force by the Oregon State Police.