The death surrounding protester and Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 55, is already being steeped in mystery. Conflicting accounts have emerged surrounding his death with law enforcement officials maintaining that the shooting was necessary. However, while there are many hearsay reports by Bundy protester supporters, an account has emerged from Victoria Sharp, a passenger in the car which Finicum was driving immediately prior to his death at the hands of federal and state agents.
Several protesters have detailed accounts of what they heard about Finicum’s death and have asserted that Finicum charged at the officers. However, only one account has emerged from a passenger in the vehicle who saw Finicum shot dead.
All accounts appear to be consistent in the assertion that Finicum did not appear to be holding any sort of weapon when shot.
A small convoy of protesters were en route to John Day, a town roughly 70 miles from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge which has been occupied by armed protesters for weeks as a means of calling attention to the federal government’s claiming of the vast majority of land in Western states in violation of the U.S. Constitution. When the lead vehicle was stopped, Finicum, the driver of the second vehicle, engaged in a back-and-forth dialogue with police.
According to Victoria Sharp, a passenger in the truck, Finicum demanded to be allowed to proceed to his destination in Grant County, Oregon, where he intended to talk with the sheriff there.
The officers and agents demanded that Finicum turn-off the engine and exit the vehicle.
“He’s like, either shoot me now or leave us alone,” Sharp said Finicum told police.
When passenger Ryan Payne stuck his head out to explain that there were women in the car, according to Sharp, agents fired at him, prompting him to promptly duck back into the vehicle.
According to Sharp, Finicum then swerved around the vehicle and Sharp maintains that officers opened-fire on the vehicle as the passengers dove to the floorboards.
The vehicle ended up crashing into a snow bank in order to avoid a road block about a mile North of where the lead vehicle had been stopped.
Sharp claims that Finicum then emerged from the vehicle and issued an ultimatum to police.
“He’s like, just shoot me then, just shoot me — and they did, they shot him dead,” Sharp said. “They shot him right there, he was just walking — I saw it. I swear to God, he was just walking with his hands in the air.”
Sharp claims that officers shot him three more times as he lay on the ground.
All occupants of the vehicles were taken into custody, but Sharp and lead-car-passenger Mark McConnell, who was not present at the time and place of Finicum’s death, were released without charges after questioning.
At this early stage, it is impossible to know the exact details surrounding the unfortunate circumstances. The FBI and law enforcement maintain that they acted properly.
However, in instances such as the Siege on Ruby Ridge, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies offered narratives that later were proven to be demonstrably false as a means of justifying the bloodshed.
Whether the shooting was justifiable or not is still yet to be seen and, most importantly, the public should await the arrival of facts and testimony before rendering a decision on the necessity of the shooting.
However, it should be noted that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown, few media outlets awaited the emergence of a reliable narrative before they dutifully portrayed Brown as a “gentle giant” who was merely attempting to surrender before being gunned-down by a supposedly racist police officer. This fabricated narrative was used as a justification for repeated riots and lootings that devastated the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri.
Meanwhile, the media and the public in general appears unwilling to cast an eye of suspicion towards the federal agency who has a documented history of extreme reactions with regards to right-wing dissenters.