Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed on January 26th, 2016, by two Oregon State Police agents who fired upon the 54-year-old rancher six times, hitting him three times.
Or so the story goes…
Just days after the shooting of the protester who joined others in occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, the FBI released the aerial footage of the moments leading to the shooting. In it, one can see Finicum stop, speak with authorities and then proceed until he encountered a roadblock. After attempting to go around the roadblock, Finicum hit a snow bank and emerged from the vehicle with his hands up. Within seconds, Finicum was dead, shot by agents who alleged that the man who just seconds prior had had his hands up was reaching for a pistol under layers of clothing that was discovered after he had been killed.
The FBI, while unveiling the footage, offered pointed commentary to suggest the narrative they preferred: that Finicum was a madman who intended harm to the agents who ultimately shot him.
To those in the car, however, it was a different story. Eyewitness accounts from inside the cab of the truck Finicum was driving alleged that shots were fired immediately after coming to a stop. Autopsy reports released on Wednesday also show that Finicum was shot repeatedly in the back- an odd occurrence for a situation where the dead man was allegedly preparing to open fire on law enforcement.
In their haste to wrap-up the tidy narrative of Finicum’s death, the FBI forgot to mention one thing: they, too, were shooting at Finicum.
Worse yet, they began shooting at him the instant he emerged from the vehicle with his hands high in the air.
Even worse yet, the FBI omitted this fact when revealing the tidy narrative concerning Finicum’s death. Now, the FBI is under investigation for their role in the shooting.
Though the protesters were armed, they had announced peaceful intentions to draw attention to the unconstitutional federal occupation of Western states. Currently, the federal government claims ownership of the majority of most Western states. The federal government claims 53% of Oregon land. The federal government claims 85% of Nevada, the home state of protester organizer Ammon Bundy.
To show that their distrust of the federal government was unjustified, the federal authorities in conjunction with state and local law enforcement ambushed a convoy of protesters who were en route to a townhall meeting to discuss the matter with the public. After the lead vehicle was stopped, Finicum stopped to announce his intentions to rendezvous with the sheriff to discuss the matter. He then proceeded, but encountered another roadblock about a mile up the road from the scene of the first stop.
Two days after the shooting of Finicum, Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon, held a press conference where he offered the aerial footage with his pointed commentary and celebrated the execution as a justifiable response to a deadly threat to agents.
However, video taken inside the cab of Finicum’s truck by passenger Shawna Cox emerged on Wednesday showing the final moments of Finicum’s life thoroughly destroying the narrative crafted by agents at the scene.
Though Finicum would ultimately be shot in the back several times seconds later, a slow-down of the footage shot inside the cab reveals a shot being taken by the FBI the very instance that Finicum emerged from his vehicle with his hands very-clearly in the air and away from his body.
The bullet hit the cab of the vehicle and shattered the glass of the rear driver’s side window.
This detail, however, was omitted in initial reports and omitted from accounts offered to the public as the FBI and Oregon State Police sought to craft a narrative supporting justifiable use of force.
If only Finicum would have been a black robber, perhaps somebody would have cared about the real “Hands up, don’t shoot” murder and the FBI cover-up that followed…