An investigation has concluded that two Oregon State Police officers were justified in shooting Robert “LaVoy” Finicum as the Malheur protest spokesman attempted to pull a 9mm on another OSP trooper after screaming “go ahead and shoot me.”
The 6 shots fired by Oregon State Police – including the 3 that killed LaVoy Finicum – were “justified and necessary” on January 26, the Malheur County District Attorney said Tuesday.
Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, was shot by law enforcement after speeding away from a traffic stop on Highway 395, crashing into an embankment and running from police. Officials said eight shots were fired, and three of them were deadly.
Officials synchronized cell phone video from inside the truck recorded by fellow Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation member Shawna Cox with aerial footage from a surveillance plane to detail points of the investigation.
Finicum refused to get out of the truck during a traffic stop on Highway 395. Several militia members were taken into custody during the course of the stop, including leader Ammon Bundy.
“You back down or you kill me now,” he yells to Oregon State Police. “OK boys, this is going to get real. You want my blood on your hands?”
The occupants of the truck agree to drive away from the traffic stop, which is a Class C felony in Oregon, the district attorney said.
A state trooper fired three shots at the truck to try and stop Finicum as he sped towards a road block. None of those shots hit anyone inside the truck.
Under Oregon law, the DA said, Finicum was using his pickup as a weapon. Law enforcement and citizens are justified under Oregon law in using deadly force against someone they reasonably believe is about to use unlawful deadly force against them.
The recordings captured Finicum yelling “go ahead and shoot me” as he exited the truck.
FBI agents fired two more shots as Finicum got out. The involved agents are under investigation for not disclosing the shots they fired in the incident.
After law enforcement ordered Finicum to get on the ground, the FBI said Finicum reached twice for a loaded gun in his pocket. He was then shot three times by Oregon State Police.
Investigators said officers were trying to use stun guns to subdue Finicum before the deadly shooting.The DA who reviewed the case said troopers were justified under Oregon law in firing the 3 shots into the truck and the 3 shots that hit Finicum.
While the six shots fired by Oregon State Police were justified, the two fired by the FBI appear to have five FBI HRT members in deep trouble. One of them fired two shots at Finicum as he exited the vehicle. One went through the roof of the truck and exited through the glass on the driver’s side out of camera view from the overhead aircraft, and the other cleanly missed. The FBI HRT member did not report shooting as is required, and his four fellow agents stand accused of helping him cover that up. The FBI’s internal affairs folks are handling that separate investigation.
Robert “LaVoy” Finicum made it very clear that he would not be taken alive in previous statements, and more than a half dozen times during the attempt to take him into custody peacefully.
It’s regrettable that Finicum made the choices he did, but his refusal to surrender and attempt to draw a weapon on an OSP trooper forced officers to fire in defense of one of their own.
This was clearly a justified shooting.