The widow of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum is threatening to file a civil rights lawsuit over the death of her husband.
The widow of an anti-government activist who helped take over an Oregon wildlife refuge and was later killed in a confrontation with law enforcement says her husband’s civil rights were violated and she intends to sue, her lawyer confirmed Monday.
Robert Lavoy Finicum’s pursuers were “motivated by political reasons” when they fatally shot him on Jan. 26, attorney Brian Claypool said in a statement.
The FBI and Oregon State Police “escalated the otherwise peaceful demonstration by pursuing Finicum despite his repeated instruction to them that he was on his way” to meet with the local sheriff, Claypool said.
Fincum’s widow, Jeanette, said after the shooting that her husband was “executed in cold blood.”
“My husband was murdered,” said the widow, who was not in the truck when her husband was fatally shot.
A 54-year-old Arizona rancher, Finicum was part of a militia group led by Ammon Bundy that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 and demanded that the feds relinquish control of all public lands and release two local ranchers who were jailed for setting fires.
As the standoff dragged on, Finicum became the group’s unofficial spokesman and said he’d sooner die than go to federal prison.
“There are things more important than your life and freedom is one of them, Finicum, an Arizona rancher,told NBC News in January. “I’m prepared to defend freedom.”
Oregon State Troopers fired the fatal rounds. Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris said the shots were justified because Finicum did not heed the officers’ commands and repeatedly reached for his weapon.
Finicum could have peacefully surrendered and been taken into custody without incident as more than two dozen other people did both before and after he was shot, but instead decided to run from the Oregon State Police and federal agents.
Finicum approached a police roadblock at a high rate of speed, and officers opened fire right before Finicum swerved left, leaving his vehicle buried deep snow just beyond the roadblock.
[Related: As the vehicle ground to a halt, an FBI agent fired two shots at vehicle and the entire team attempted to cover it up, and are facing misconduct charges.]
After Finicum left the vehicle and Oregon State Police moved to take him into custody, Finicum made a series of movement that resulted in him being shot.
Finicum dropped his hands on three separate instances. Some “internet experts” and several of the people in Finicum’s truck claim that he dropped his hands on these three occasions because he had been shot.
None of the firearms instructors I spoke with saw any evidence that this claim was true, and I concur. We saw a guy stumbling through the snow on uneven ground attempting to regain his balance. There no movements of Finicum’s hands that would reasonably be considered attempts to grasp at injuries, as he hands don’t go to his body and stay at the location of the so-called wounds, and he doesn’t double-up.
Up until this point, we had a non-compliant suspect that was still not acting as a deadly force threat, and no credible claims that shots had been fired at Finicum, much less any evidence that he’s been hit.
Finicum then stops moving forward, and after dropping his hands a third time—again, we’ve not seen any indication in his movements showing that he was “grasping at gunshot wounds”—he squares up facing the OSP officer on the snowbank and begins reaching toward his pockets and then back out again.
Finicum reaches several times towards his coat, then begins to turn left towards the officer coming towards him from the treeline. Finicum reaches with his left hand to open his coat, while bringing his right arm across his chest in a motion consistent with drawing a weapon.
Finicum screamed “Go ahead and shoot me!” as he turned to the officer coming in from the woods with his taser drawn. Two OSP officers then fired a total of 3 shots that struck Finicum from behind at this moment, reasonably convinced that Finicum was reaching for his 9mm pistol.
When you evade a felony traffic stop, then lead police on a high speed chase, wreck, stumble from your vehicle, tell police to shoot you and then make a motion that appears to be a clear attempt to reach for the 9mm pistol you habitually carry either in a shoulder holder or the front left inside pocket of your coat, bad things are going to happen to you.
It doesn’t matter what your name is, or what your color is, or what cause you claim to represent.
Robert “LaVoy” Finicum said repeatedly that he wasn’t going to taken alive, attempted to flee from police and wrecked. Instead of surrendering, he repeatedly called for officers to shoot him, and then put an officer’s life at risk by making a motion 100-percent consistent with an attempt to draw a weapon.
While I feel a great degree of sympathy for Mrs. Finicum, her husband was not murdered.
He committed suicide by cop, and her case has no merit.