Did the FBI lie about the killing of LaVoy Finicum?

Reader Lou Jost has been doing some investigation of the shooting of LaVoy Finicum. As you may recall, Finicum was one of those who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest over the arrest of two ranchers for arson on federal land. That protest began in January, and on the 26th of that month Finicum was shot and killed by the Oregon State Police while driving off the Refuge.

At the time (links below), it looked as if Finicum provoked his own killing by reaching for his gun after exiting the van he was driving. That bit remains uncontested, and the state police have been cleared of behaving improperly. Finicum did make a move that appars to have endangered the police. But there have also been claims that the FBI also fired on Finicum and his van beforehand—and without provocation.

When I posted about this earlier, Lou argued that the FBI lied about the circumstances surrounding Finicum’s death, and debated that point with readers. Now it looks as if Lou was right: four FBI agents are under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for lying about firing shots at Finicum before he went for his gun, and then trying to cover it up.

I’ll let Lou give his narrative here and readers can hash it out, though it certainly looks as if the FBI didn’t exercise proper restraint.

Lou’s words are indented:

by Lou Jost

Back in January I had a heated debate with many WEIT commenters about the circumstances surrounding LaVoy Finicum’s death (see here and here). Discrepancies led me to suspect the media and authorities were not being truthful. Of course I abhor Finicum’s politics, actions, and attitude, but we should still hold law enforcement to a common standard of decency, even when they go after our enemies.

Cell phone video by one of the women in Finicum’s truck gives us a “Marshall McLuhan moment” to resolve that debate. She filmed the whole interaction:

It is an amazing video, and it confirms the narrative I gave in the WEIT comments.

The whole FBI narrative presented at the press conference was a lie. The FBI shot at Finicum early in the chase, and then tried to kill him from the moment he opened the truck door and stepped out with his hands up. He didn’t draw his gun then, even though he was under fire. While the actual fatal shooting may have been justified, the FBI’s initial attempts to kill him escalated tensions and virtually ensured a violent end.

The witness I quoted in the comment thread was the only one who was giving a sincere account of the event.

The FBI not only lied to the public but also to local law enforcement. Local law enforcement discovered their lies after inspecting the truck and the video.

The video taken by the person in the truck shows all this, but here is print confirmation from the Los Angeles Times:

“An elite FBI hostage rescue team is under investigation after one or more federal agents apparently lied or failed to admit that they shot at Oregon occupier Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during a fatal showdown in January, officials revealed Tuesday.”

“Deschutes County investigators said they were puzzled by a bullet hole in the roof of Finicum’s truck, which did not come from shots fired by Oregon state troopers — but instead, apparently, from the FBI agents at the scene.”

““During the course of our investigation, we discovered evidence that an FBI HRT operator fired two shots as Mr. Finicum exited the truck, and one shot hit the truck,” said Nelson, the sheriff.”

“The FBI agents apparently did not admit to firing the shots during interviews, Nelson said….The Office of the Inspector General confirmed that the FBI’s hostage rescue team was under investigation, but declined to provide details.”

I found this March press conference by the local police:

The first part is a straightforward and convincing justification of the shots taken by the Oregon State Police. (By the way, I have no problem with that; under the circumstances, the local police were totally justified in shooting Finicum.)

But it gets interesting at 17:05 when the local police explain how they discovered that the FBI was lying. (The FBI guy is standing right there while they explain this.) Especially striking is an emotional moment at 21:50 when a local official’s voice breaks as he thanks his team for their integrity for pursuing the evidence wherever it might lead, “without fear or favor”. He then wipes tears from his eyes at 22:55 and 23:24. Very unusual thing to see police crying at a press conference like this. I suspect the local guys were/are under a lot of pressure to drop this, but they have real integrity and refused to do so.

I’ve now read the 500+ pages of the investigation to date. Apparently many but not all of the local officers were also covering for the FBI’s lies during their Internal Affairs interviews. None of them mention the two unprovoked FBI shots that are on the video, even when the officers were closely questioned about this by the investigator.

99 Comments

  1. jaxkayaker
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Very interesting, and of course any law enforcement officials guilty of lying & other crimes in this case (or any other) should be investigated appropriately, tried appropriately and punished appropriately.

    At the same time, Finicum et al. knew they were violating the law and risked this response, even if his shooting turns out not to be justified.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Completely agree. There’s no doubt Finicum’s shooting was justified. After all, he was yelling “Shoot me, shoot me now!” much of the time, while disobeying orders.

      The problem is the larger one of the FBI feeling free to invent narratives, even in this case where they didn’t even have to do so.

      • jaxkayaker
        Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        I think we’re not only on the same page, we’re in the same paragraph.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Risking the response? He was inviting it.

  2. Posted May 9, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    It is imperative that justice not only be done but be seen to be done; and that means that all arms of the law must act impartially. Unfortunately, the whole gun culture has engendered the suspicion that people are always armed and any action can be presumed to be hostile—even if someone is only extracting their ID or phone then they are thought to be going for a gun and deadly force can be used whether it is necessary or not.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      And he was armed. And had made it clear he was prepared to use his gun (previous statements of the group, his reference to “bloodbath”).

      • Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Yes, the police were justified in acting as they did, though they seemed to push for this kind of confrontation. As someone else mentioned in the comments, all they had to do was sit there awhile and it might have ended peacefully. There was no place for him to go.

      • Posted May 9, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        It is frustrating that both are true. Finicum was armed, had said he’d rather die (and presumably kill) than be captured, and he had nowhere to go. If they had waited, he probably would have surrendered. (And yet he might have drawn that weapon.) What a mess.

  3. Kevin
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Guns make people a greater threat. Always. I do not see why Finicum had to be shot dead. He was in the middle of no where; they could have disabled the vehicle, taken the other people away and just let him run into the woods or hold up near the car until he ran out of food and/or water. He probably would have used a gun on himself in the end. Very sad.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      It’s not required for police to wait for an incoming shot to use deadly force. They have to make a split second judgment in a hot situation. (I’m very grateful I do not have to do that.) When Finicum repeatedly went for the gun in his waist band, he was intentionally goading them to shoot him. After a few feints to the gun, they did.

      Finicum knew exactly what he was doing.

      None of this makes the FBI lying OK or changes the fact they they probably escalated the situation unnecessarily.

      Nevertheless, after viewing the video, Finicum was not acting like a rational person who might be reasoned with. He was going to do what he wanted to do or “be down on the ground in my blood.” He knew what he was doing.

      • Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        I agree with you.

      • Kevin
        Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        I agree too. The only sadness is that for the law enforcement person who had to put him down. What do they call it, “suicide by cop”. It is not fair, in my view, to the law enforcement to have to get involved with another person’s delusions.

  4. bpuharic
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Although I’m not too unhappy with the result that these cop threatening fanatics got their ‘just desserts’, we can not allow law enforcement to act with impunity. Even crazed gun cultists deserve their civil rights. The FBI has done this before (Ruby Ridge). So we need a fair and impartial investigation.

  5. Alpha Neil
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    This seems to be directly related to the earlier post on the decline of journalism.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Yes. The mainstream media did very little to investigate this at the beginning. They just ate up the FBI press conference with the silent drone video. Yet there were strong conflicts with the only eyewitness testimony available at that time.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 9, 2016 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        To be honest, I flatly disbelieved the ‘eyewitness testimony’ at the time. And argued that point on WEIT. This probably arose from two things, my prejudice against the occupying gun nuts, and a total disbelief in ‘eyewitness testimony’ of any kind. I wouldn’t convict someone of a parking ticket on the strenth of unsupported eyewitness testimony. (Google e.g. ‘Invisible Gorilla’ for ample reasons why).

        As against that, this would have been about the first time I believed the FBI version. Oh well, order is restored to my cynical world. The FBI *always* lie.

        cr

      • Posted May 9, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        That’s a great comment. I agree that eyewitness testimony by itself is pretty useless, especially under stress. There were little things about Victoria’s testimony that gave it some credibility, though. She wasn’t lionizing F, in contrast to the false stories initially circulating about him being shot while kneeling in surrender. Quite the contrary, she portrayed an aggressive F constantly yelling “Shoot me!” And she mentioned physical things that could be easily checked, like the left windows being blown out. When she said that, she hesitated a bit as if recalling it and figuring out whether it was left or right.

        She made some typical eyewitness mistakes, sure. But she seemed to be trying to recount the events to the best of her ability. Also, her account was spontaneous rather than rehearsed (again, unlike some of the earlier accounts that came out), and such accounts tend to contain better clues about what really happened.

  6. GBJames
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Regardless of the misconduct of the FBI, I don’t think the word “murder” applies here since the shots that killed Finicum were (apparently) justifiable. Perhaps “Did the FBI lie about the shooting of LaVoy Finicum” would be better.

  7. Willard Bolinger
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the FBI did lie? But my thinking watching the entire video was one of “white privilege! They were fleeing the scene and not being fired upon! Blacks or Latinos are used to being fired upon for fleeing. Then the scene where the front vehicle stops and the FBI behind them stop and get out but do not appear to fire on them, but just wait. And a long wait! Then the front vehicle takes off again before running into snow bank off to the left side of road. Only white people are treated with kid gloves like this. Therefore “White privilege”! If the FBI did lie it then become interesting that we felt we needed to lie for firing on white people. Black or Latinos would have been expected heavy fire power used against them right from the beginning for fleeing.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      This incident was part of a very long standoff, with many confrontations, pretty clearly drawn lines in the sand, highly politicized, in front of the media, and with the background of Waco, Ruby Ridge, etc.

      • gluonspring
        Posted May 10, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        I agree. My first reaction was the same as Willard’s… “boy, look at those kid gloves… it’s nice to be white”. But on reflection I think in this case the kid gloves were more a reflection of background considerations.

        Of course, I approve of kid gloves. I think kid gloves are usually appropriate. I’d like law enforcement to really go out of their way to be professional and patient and a damper on violence rather than merely a sanctioned participant in the ongoing violence.

    • gluonspring
      Posted May 10, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Sadly, at least judging from Bundy Sr’s attitudes about minorities, these guys would probably approve of the heavy handed treatment of minorities even as they will play up their own grievances against the FBI here. In their mind, minorities, after all, are criminal thugs… while they are just honest citizens trying to improve their community.

      OTOH, maybe I’m being too cynical. Maybe seeing this will move a few white people over to be more sympathetic to claims of overly aggressive policing. It seems like it’d be worth trying to link these things together to get more people on board with considering how law enforcement handles these things.

  8. Randy Schenck
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I have to wonder, what are the chances the truth of all this would come out if not for all the video they had to investigate and expose the cover up.

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Also, good job by Lou to stay on this story as it begins to unwind. The kind of reporting we need but rarely get these days.

      • Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Thanks. This is of concern to me because the FBI did similar things to an environmental group I once belonged to, and they have done much worse to other groups, such as civil rights and anti-war groups. Read about COINTELPRO if you haven’t yet.

  9. Chewy
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    This is old news. The two shots were disclosed very early on. This has been studied to death. Your correspondent isn’t saying anything new, but is drawing extreme conclusions, making it sound like the FBI was shooting at LaVoy after he left the truck, during the confrontation with the OSP officers. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Oh right. You say my “extreme” conclusion is that I am “making it sound like the FBI was shooting at LaVoy after he left the truck, during the confrontation with the OSP officers.” I am not “making it sound like” that is what happened. That IS exactly what really happened, as admitted by all concerned and backed up by video.

      • Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        This is good stuff Lou; and I, for one, had not heard of it before. Thanks for posting this. Thanks to PCCE for posting ti as well.

        • Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

          Thanks very much jblilie for your balanced inputs.

  10. Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I should add what I’ve learned in the last days.

    The FBI narrative was that two cars were stopped, and that one, Finicums, eventually started up again and then came to the roadblock.

    This part of the narrative left out the very significant fact that, during the first stop, the police began shooting “less-lethal” bullets at the stopped car before it pulled away.

    This was described in Victoria Sharp’s account, where she says that at this stop, Ryan Payne sticks his hands and head out of the car to talk to the officers, and they shoot at him. I thought maybe she was confused about this, as it seems so strange. But the police admit this in their internal report; Part 1 p 20, “[Payne is] kind of half out of the truck. He acts like he’s going back in. He starts to kind of go back in, and officer No. 5 fires a 40 mm less lethal sponge tip round which hits him in the arm”; another officer shoots the car at that time, p 222: “The passengers window starts to come down, and an individual puts hands out…goes back in..knowing these individuals are armed, I did not want a gun to come out, so I shot a single 40, uh, OC round at the canopy window….” Note how odd this is: Ryan is cooperating and is being ordered out, but of course can’t open the car door while both hands are out the window.

    After the truck gets to the roadblock and goes off the road, there is an amazing moment in the Shauna Cox video when the camera is focused on the car mirror. Finicum is visible in the mirror, with his hands out. Then the window that the camera is looking through is shattered by the FBI bullet (one of the two shots that were covered up).

    Also, there is a lot of electronic media that has not been released, so we’ll learn more about this..

    The most interesting thing about seeing this from both the police and target’s viewpoints is the enormous disconnect between them. The police think the remaining occupants of the truck aren’t cooperating after F is shot, so they continue to attack it with “less lethal” bullets and gas, all the while ordering them to come out. But the civilians inside can’t tell a “less lethal” round from a real one, and it seems to them that they are under heavy fire and are going to be killed like F if they leave the vehicle.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Yes, your last paragraph. That is what struck me most strongly. I could see, perfectly, why they were afraid to exit the vehicle.

    • JohnW
      Posted May 9, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      “and that one, Finicums, eventually started up again and then came to the roadblock.”

      I think there’s a little bit more to how Finicum “came” to the roadblock that’s relevant to the story.

      • gluonspring
        Posted May 10, 2016 at 1:36 am | Permalink

        Are you talking about almost running over an officer?

        That definitely bears mentioning. Though if the shots came after he exited the truck that’s a bit late to try to disable a ramming vehicle.

        • Posted May 10, 2016 at 6:36 am | Permalink

          Three shots were fired at F and at the vehicle by state police as it approached. Those shots were ruled as justified, and I agree. The controversial shots that were covered up were taken when the truck was stopped and there was no threat.

          • gluonspring
            Posted May 10, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

            I wonder why the shots were taken? Just amped up and jumpy? Actually trying to shoot him, what?

            • Posted May 10, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

              We’ll probably never know that. But after watching the local official break down and cry during the March press conference, I keep wondering if there isn’t something bigger behind this.

              • gluonspring
                Posted May 10, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

                Could be. Could also just be an emotional guy like John Boehner. Also, even if there isn’t overt behind-the-scenes pressure from the FBI, you can’t build a case to accuse the FBI of lying without feeling a good bit of implicit pressure. You don’t know how they will react. Sometimes people just break down when they come out the other side of a high pressure situation.

                There is never enough sunshine for my taste.

  11. p. puk
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Every day law enforcement lies. Because of it, every day people are injured, die, go to prison or are executed for it.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes, law enforcement is us: Humans.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      In 2005, there were 43.5 million face-to-face contacts between police and people in the US. There are likely even more these days.

      The vast (massive, enormous) majority of them go well — and are never reported upon.

      • p. puk
        Posted May 9, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        The fact that there is a culture of lying and conspiracy that pervades law enforcement (in practically every country in the world) detracts entirely from this lame defence of corruption.

        We don’t need to praise cops for being normal and doing their jobs (as you seem to suggest) and we most certainly DO NOT need to pretend massive problems don’t exists by pointing out a nonsense factoid.

        When cops are forced to choose whom to protect and serve they invariably – in “the vast (massive, enormous) majority” of cases – will choose to protect and serve themselves and each other.

        We should’t be relying on and praising cops when they do their jobs right any more than we do it for postmen or firemen.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted May 9, 2016 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

          You are right. The fact that it is exceptional that police behave reasonably and normally is a tip off.

          It has just come out that the FBI have been lying about DNA evidence for years.
          They lie and they protect there own.

          Thankfully video in everyone hand is making them more accountable.

          If a ‘criminal’ causes a death in the course of the crime they can be charged with murder.
          If the FBI shooting contributed to his death, why not murder here too.

          A lot of jobs are dangerous, including ones where other people are involved.

          No one else gets to kill someone to avoid a boo boo.

          That so many here are so ready to accept and justify police killing people is a worry.

  12. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Lou – you aren’t being gloaty enough about being right! 😉

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Note one correction to the note I wrote to Jerry. I wrote “The FBI shot at Finicum early in the chase.” That was the Oregon police, not the FBI.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 9, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        You still get to gloat!

  13. Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    This whole scenario paints a picture of the gun culture mentality that exists on both sides of law enforecment. It’s likely a very small minority on both sides, but significant enough to make the death toll much higher than it is in other civilized countries. I’ve personally known many law enforcement officers who defend their brethren with zero regard for the evidence (usually it’s before evidence even comes to light). The kill or be killed mentality needs to change, and of course I in no way am saying the officers who thought Finicum were wrong or that many uses of weapons aren’t justified, but we need to be a bit more scrupulous in our analysis.

  14. Reggie Cormack
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really understand the need to shoot any kind of bullet, or anyone thinking that it’s ok, until the guy later appeared to go for his gun. Up until then I don’t see that anyone’s life inside or outside the car was at risk. Shooting someone (likely) dead is still a big deal.

  15. JohnW
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m not surprised that someone tried to cover up when two errant shots were fired perhaps prematurely. Law enforcement did all they could to avoid another Waco. Nevertheless, Mr. they’ll-never-take-me-alive tried to run the roadblock and approached at nearly 70 mph narrowly missing an officer, in itself an act of threatening officers with a lethal weapon (the truck). At that point lethal force was appropriate imho, but knowingly denying the shots was definitely a mistake. Also not surprised fellow officers would show loyalty and attempt to protect one of theirs from losing a career over one of these losers.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 9, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      I’m not surprised, either. But I am disappointed nonetheless. The blue wall of silence is a serious problem in the US.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      It is not only after those who are ‘losers’ on your eyes.
      It is anybody.
      You to be endorsing criminal dishonest behaviour because it was done to someone you don’t like.

      That is a very slippery slope.

      Where would you stop that endorsement.
      Beatings, torture, false imprisonment.

      Yep, losers deserve it.

      That slope is a slope at play to varying degrees around the world, with very unpleasant consequences for some (losers) at the bottom of it.

  16. bpuharic
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    One wonders if Finicum had been black…

  17. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Did the FBI lie

    I admit to not having read 500+ pages of material, or looked at all the video. This whole terrorist affair seems from an European perspective, excuse me, trivial. (Except for those involved, of course.) We have had lots of separatist killings, and now we have other extremists, despite having a globally low frequency.

    But in the 3d video here, from the 17 min mark and 4 minutes on, I hear the local police clear the FBI as an agency from lying, and thank them for their quick response when it was uncovered that FBI personnel was lying.

    Seems the headline follows the usual rule of having the response: “No”.

    Personally I don’t feel comfortable with the American/South Europe et cetera idea of having parallel police, paramilitary and military forces acting in concert.

    These things are bound to happen, when individual personnel sees the opportunity and/or need to cover ass before, under and after actions. Having more agencies may provide checks, as here, or they may provide more opportunities for breaking the law, as here.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      You’re playing a bit with words here. Did the agency lie? Well, the agency’s official local spokesperson, the FBI state director, speaking on the record in Jan in his official capacity, omitted mention of the first shots of less-lethal bullets fired at the stopped vehicle, and omitted mention of the two FBI bullets shot at Finicum when he exited the vehicle. And all the FBI agents on the scene, acting in their official capacity, lied to local police during the official investigation.

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    “The witness I quoted in the comment thread was the only one who was giving a sincere account of the event.”

    According to her recorded interview that Lou Jost linked to on 1/30/16 here, this witness originally fabricated a host of factors regarding the incident. She claimed that at least 120 shots were fired, that the vehicle they were riding in was “bombarded” with gun shots and riddled with bullet holes, and that at the time the first shot was fired Ryan Bundy had his hands and head held outside the vehicle’s rear window. She also claimed that Finicum had his hands up in the air when he was shot and that he had been shot six times (including at least three times after he was down on the ground). She further claimed that Ryan Bundy had also been shot in the shoulder and that the vehicle’s occupants were “gassed” five times before surrendering. None of these allegations are borne out by the above video. Maybe she was being sincere; she was certainly inaccurate.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I agree she is not completely accurate,and like all testimony, there are exaggerations and filling-in of stuff she inferred rather than saw. That’s why I used the word “sincere” rather than “accurate.” I used the videos and other evidence in conjunction with her report to judge what really happened.

      But “fabrication” is a strong word and it seems you have made little attempt to check your allegations. Let’s go through your claimed “fabrications”:

      “…At least 120 shots were fired….riddled with bullet holes” Agreed, that’s just some random number. But it was a high number. She is counting all the shots, including less-lethal, gas, and the flash-bang barrages; she can’t distinguish them. The car was not too “riddled” with bullet holes, only four real bullet holes, but lots of broken windows and lots of impacts of less-lethal bullets, which you can hear in the video.

      “..the time the first shot was fired Ryan Bundy had his hands and head held outside the vehicle’s rear window.” That is roughly accurate. As I mentioned in a comment above, I too thought this was strange, but it is sincere and is confirmed by the police (see citations above), except that one shot was fired right after Ryan pulled his hands back in the car (and Victoria’s statement expresses some uncertainty about what exactly happened in this part of the incident).

      “Finicum had his hands up in the air when he was shot” Finicum’s hands WERE up in the air when he was first shot at by the FBI snipers as he left the truck. You can see that in the video. Victoria could not have known at the time which bullets actually hit him and which missed.

      “he had been shot six times” I think she says five or six times. The actual number of shots fired was five after he left the truck (plus three while approaching the roadblock).

      “including at least three times after he was down on the ground” Here she is wrong. This part she could not have seen clearly. The last three shots came close together and she has misplaced the timing of them. She also did not clearly mention that the first two shots came as soon as he left the vehicle.

      “Ryan Bundy had also been shot in the shoulder” Ryan Bundy was injured in the shoulder, as confirmed by the police in their responses to the investigators. One of the officers opened a hole in Ryan’s shirt to check, and found a hole he described as 1 to 1.5 inches deep, of uncertain origin.

      “the vehicle’s occupants were “gassed” five times before surrendering” Many more than five gas bullets were shot into the car, in multiple waves, and in the video you can see the gas and see the reactions of the passengers. The police also talked a lot about the gas in their reports.

      • Posted May 9, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        About Ryan Bundy’s wound, in the Shauna Cox video you can see Victoria and Ryan discussing the wound in the car.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 9, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        I agree, Lou, which is why I allowed as how she might be sincere, but inaccurate.

        I also agree with you about the FBI. If the agents (or anyone else from law enforcement) lied about this shooting, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

        I’ve spent a good chunk of my career going toe-to-toe in courtrooms against witnesses from the FBI, so am well-acquainted with their faults. And I’d be the last ever to try to defend the Bureau under J. Edgar Hoover. I was on record as criticizing the old self-loathing, race-baiting, red-bashing anti-Semite even before he did the nation the belated service of croaking. (Hell, every trip to D.C., I try to set aside enough time to grab a cab, pick up a six-pack, and head over to Congressional Cemetery to piss on his grave.)

        • Posted May 9, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          “I’ve spent a good chunk of my career going toe-to-toe in courtrooms against witnesses from the FBI”

          That must have been very interesting. Wish I could invite you over for a beer and trade FBI stories.

  19. Posted May 9, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    ” and then tried to kill him from the moment he opened the truck door and stepped out with his hands up.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but how do we know that? It seems more likely to me, given how quickly he was shot, and killed once he reached for a weapon, that those were warning shots. I mean if they were trying to kill him why would they have stopped firing, and then not started again until after he reached for his weapon?

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know. The behavior isn’t consistent with a warning shot; it entered the roof of a vehicle known to have many passengers inside. But I agree, why did they stop if they were trying to kill him? Maybe there are limits to the degree they felt they could shoot with impunity?

      • Posted May 9, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        “Maybe there are limits to the degree they felt they could shoot with impunity?”

        Are you suggesting they would have been shooting with impunity if they had opened fire to kill an armed man yelling “shoot me”, and had accidently hit the people who chose to remain in the vehicle with him, after they had been offered every opportunity to exit the vehicle? I thought your problem was that FBI was inventing narratives. Not that they were wrong (shot with impunity) had they initially open fire to kill him. Now you seem to have a problem with their justification as well as believing they lied.

        • Posted May 9, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          I said above that the local police shots were justified. Yes, I do have a problem with the FBI shots. Do you think it is ok to shoot at a man who has exited a vehicle with hands in the air?

          • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

            “Do you think it is ok to shoot at a man who has exited a vehicle with hands in the air?”

            He was yelling “shoot me”, was known to be armed, and had his left arm extended straight out in the direction of the agents on the far side of his vehicle. I wouldn’t characterize that as shooting someone who was, as you seem to be implying, surrendering.

            • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

              His arms were outstretched and his hands were open. He was showing both hands were empty. The testimony of the officer nearest him is that at this point, F is non-threatening. So much so that this officer holstered his weapon and pulled out his taser. (Later he did say that he regretted making this decision as it left him vulnerable to a quick draw.)

              I did not imply F was surrendering; I do claim he was non-threatening, and that is an important criterion for use of deadly force.

              • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

                “The testimony of the officer nearest him is that at this point, F is non-threatening.”

                The officer nearest him tells us nothing about how his actions were perceived by people without such a clear view. It only tells us what he saw, and why he acted as he did.

            • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

              In fact, I wanted to add, if you look at the video at 5:30 mark, as he lifts his left arm, he appears to have something metallic in his left hand. Now I assume it isn’t a gun, because we would know if he had a gun in his hand when he exited the vehicle, but it does indicate how even video, let alone fallible people can see things differently without those differences being indicative of an intentional lie.

              • Posted May 9, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

                Mike, see my other comment to you below. The lie isn’t that the FBI shots were possibly justified; the lie is that THERE WERE NO SHOTS as he got out of the car. Obviously there were shots, you can see and hear them and one of them made a hole in the roof. So there was a lie. Period.

        • Posted May 9, 2016 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

          Also, I do not “believe” the FBI guys lied. The FBI guys DID lie.

          • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

            “The FBI guys DID lie.”

            Unless they’ve admitted it I don’t see how you can say that with any degree of certainly. I agree there is an apparent discrepancy between what they said, and what we see in this video, but we don’t have enough evidence to say anyone lied. See my comment below where I expand on this.

            • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

              I’ll look at your comment below and respond there.

  20. JohnW
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    “But there have also been claims that the FBI also fired on Finicum and his van beforehand—and without provocation.”

    Respectfully, ignoring law enforcement instructions and attempting to evade a roadblock at 70 mph- barely missing an officer at the last second is not “without provocation”.

    This was not a routine traffic stop. This was a continuation of armed intimidation of government officials that started at the Bundy ranch nearly 2 years prior with crackpots taking up sniper positions and aiming at government employees attempting to do their jobs. Context here, as always, makes a difference.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Even criminals have basic rights. It’s not ok to take potshots at crackpots. If a law enforcement agency like the FBI thinks it is ok to do that, that’s a problem. Especially when they are the ones that get to decide who is a crackpot and who isn’t.

      • johnw
        Posted May 9, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Criminals do have rights, I agree, so long as they act lawfully. And I don’t see how resisting arrest while armed and charging a roadblock means that law enforcement becomes responsible for the outcome. Btw, a potshot is what happened to Randy Weaver’s wife and that was wrong undoubtedly. Finicum’s shooting was a chaotic, uncontrolled encounter caused by him that took seconds at close quarters, not unlike the encounter in Seaside OR just two weeks later when an armed, known felon killed officer Jason Goodding while seemingly subdued on the ground.

        I understand that some cops do bad things, but imho far more often they risk their lives.

        • darrelle
          Posted May 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          I think the main issue here is not the actual conduct of the law enforcement personnel during the events, that is a much more complicated issue that is unclear I think given what information I’ve seen so far, but rather the lying that went on afterwards.

          The lying is every bit as endemic as others above have said. It is the norm. That should be intolerable to anyone with sense. That law enforcement is dangerous work is not a legitimate excuse. That law enforcement has to deal with bad people on a regular basis is not a relevant excuse. There are absolutely no relevant excuses.

          • Posted May 9, 2016 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

            Well said.

          • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            “The lying is every bit as endemic as others above have said. It is the norm.”

            I agree, and it’s important to point out the lie if it was one. Do we know for a fact that anyone lied? Perhaps 1 or 2 of the agents thought he had the gun in his hand when he exited the vehicle, perhaps they thought he was reaching for it earlier than others, and the other who thought it was later were unwilling to second guess the viewing angle, and what another agent saw, or thought he saw. It’s not uncommon for bystanders who aren’t in the heat of the battle to give different eyewitness testimony. In the heat of a gun battle, with adrenalin flowing I don’t think we know enough to assume anyone was intentionally lying. I think this new evidence (if it is new) justifies additional investigation, but no reasonable conclusions.

            • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

              Mike, I don’t really understand your comment. It is known that the FBI agents fired two shots at Finicum as he left the car. The FBI agents who fired these shots denied that they fired them. FBI agents also later apparently collected the spent shells and hid them (this is not yet fully public). So there were at least these lies and apparently a subsequent cover-up.

              Finally, the FBI narrative in the Jan press conference implies that F was shot at only when he reached for his gun. That is false, he was shot at as he left the vehicle with his hands in the air. The FBI narrative also omits mention of the earlier less-lethal shots fired at Ryan Payne during the first stop of the truck.

              So I am puzzled by your reference to possible justifications of the shots, as a means of showing that no one lied. The shots were concealed. That was the lie.

              Your argument might, however, address my claim that it was wrong to shoot a guy with his hands in the air. That is a different argument. Can you at least agree that FBI agents lied here? At least the agents who shot at F were knowingly lying, that seems to me proven beyond any doubt.

              • Posted May 9, 2016 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

                “Mike, I don’t really understand your comment. It is known that the FBI agents fired two shots at Finicum as he left the car. The FBI agents who fired these shots denied that they fired them. FBI agents also later apparently collected the spent shells and hid them (this is not yet fully public).”

                OK, first of all I’m not saying you are wrong, but I still don’t see how you can conclude lying took place. I’ve heard of cases where a police officer stated they never fired at all, only to discover they’d emptied their weapon, and it was explained by adrenaline, and panic.
                Why are you assuming that the 2, or 1 officer who fired twice, knows he fired early? Why do you assume shells are missing? Were they able to match up every bullet with every shell, and discovered 2 were missing? How do you distinguish between a shell that was one of the initial shots, or one of the barrage of shots when he reached for his gun? If someone says I fired twice when he reached for his gun, and there are two shells, but he actually fired once when Finicum left the car, and again when he reached, there’s no need for shells to have been hidden.

              • Posted May 9, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

                Did you even listen to the March press conference in the post?

                “Why are you assuming that the 2, or 1 officer who fired twice, knows he fired early?”

                The FBI agents denied that they fired ANY shots, regardless of timing.

                “Why do you assume shells are missing?”

                I don’t assume that, the police investigators state that. At least one officer saw the spent cartridges on the ground at one point. They disappeared from the scene.

                “Were they able to match up every bullet with every shell, and discovered 2 were missing?”

                Yes. The investigators were very thorough.

                “How do you distinguish between a shell that was one of the initial shots, or one of the barrage of shots when he reached for his gun?”

                Each of the three shots fired when F went for his gun (and each of the three shots fired into the truck as it approached the roadblock) are accounted for, by officer testimony, and by ballistic analysis, and by physical evidence of impacts. The casings used by the local police were of a different metal alloy than the casings used by FBI, visually distinct, and the investigators questioned the officers in detail about the color of the spent shells seen, vs the spent shells recovered.

                “If someone says I fired twice when he reached for his gun, and there are two shells, but he actually fired once when Finicum left the car, and again when he reached, there’s no need for shells to have been hidden.”

                Remember this is not about shot counts or timing. I don’t know why you don’t understand this point. The FBI guys said they took NO SHOTS. But there is a bullet hole in the roof of the truck from a high angle coming from the direction of the FBI sharpshooters on ladders in the trees. There were no OSP officers or any other non-FBI people in that area.

                “there’s no need for shells to have been hidden”
                Again, a shell corresponding to the bullet hole in the roof, was not recovered. Nor was a shell for the second shot heard at that time. Even though a local police officer did see the shells on the ground at one point.

                Finally, an anonymous source in law enforcement told reporters that surveillance videos showed FBI agents bending down and collecting objects believed to be the casings. The March press conference seems to make an oblique reference to this. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this claim, but the presence of lots of unreleased memory cards in the Internal Affairs evidence list suggests that there is a lot more evidence out there, not yet released because it is part of the ongoing federal investigation into the FBI agents’ misbehavior.

                Why do you think the feds are investigating the FBI agents?

              • Posted May 9, 2016 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

                Thanks for taking the time to point all these things out. Maybe I should post about this on the “What have you changed your mind about?” thread. 🙂

              • Posted May 9, 2016 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

                Thanks very much for reading my response with an open mind. I appreciate that.

          • JohnW
            Posted May 9, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            I agree that what seems to be a cover-up, if that is really the case (which no one on this thread truly knows btw), would be wrong.

            The two shots in the heat of the moment, I cannot say were wrong and I don’t think anyone can without being in those officer’s shoes.

            Focusing on the fact that someone in the FBI may have lied about two errant shots, while ignoring everything else either leading up to or happening at this location and at this time, is imho motivated reasoning and I think also wrong.

            • Posted May 9, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

              I think, on the contrary, that excusing FBI misbehavior just because it was done to people you don’t like is motivated reasoning and is wrong.

              This is part of a long-running pattern of FBI misinformation and misbehavior, and we should stand up to it no matter who the FBI’s target was.

            • Posted May 9, 2016 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

              I should add that I did not start out disbelieving the FBI, though from past experience I did not trust them either.

              • gluonspring
                Posted May 10, 2016 at 1:48 am | Permalink

                I want to hear a story from this past experience.

              • Posted May 10, 2016 at 7:01 am | Permalink

                In the late 1980s and early 1990s I had been an occasional spokesperson for the Austin TX branch of EarthFirst!, and often I was the mediator between police and our non-violent protesters. I had many good experiences with ethical police. But the FBI has a different culture.

                At the time, Judi Barri was a California EarthFirst! activist who was blown up by a nail-coated bomb under her car seat. The FBI and Oakland police arrested her and her passenger for bombing herself. They lied about the location of the bomb, saying it had been in the back seat in plain view, even though the physical evidence (the car) clearly showed it was directly under her seat.

                Later by a weird coincidence I was chosen to be the jungle guide for the Oakland district attorney’s week-long visit to Amazonian Ecuador. I had this guy (and some of his staff) who was in charge of prosecuting Judi Barri, to myself for an entire week. It was a very interesting week. He told me the FBI basically made it sound like there was no doubt about her guilt. But he was quite open and even uninformed about Judi and the evidence. He believed the FBI at first, because after all they were the FBI. He eventually dropped the charges, and eventually Judi Barri’s family won a 4 million dollar lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland, and the city of Oakland declared the bombing day “Judi Barri Day”.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

            Well said.
            Many people have difficult dangerous jobs.
            Many dealing with troubled people.
            As I said above, no one else gets to kill people to avoid the barest hint of harm.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

          Really?
          How was Lon Horiuchi risking his life?
          How is a sniper risking their life?

        • p. puk
          Posted May 10, 2016 at 5:29 am | Permalink

          “Criminals do have rights, I agree, so long as they act lawfully.”

          Criminals continue to have rights EVEN WHEN they act unlawfully.

          Judges can revoke certain rights according to legislation and in a court of law.

          But random assholes wearing blue uniforms do not have this authority.

  21. loren russell
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Jerry — Can’t you please change the title of this item?…”murder” is a slogan, not an accurate use of the word by any telling. Lou keeps saying that he doesn’t believe there was a “Kill order” on Finnicum, and that the State Police were justified in shooting him — so please, it isn’t “murder”.

    This usage simply gets in the way of any reasoned discussion of the unquestioned after-the-fact smoothing over of this event.

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      Fair enough; I shouldn’t have said “murder” in the first place. I’ve changed it.

  22. Posted May 9, 2016 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    What puzzles me most is why the official in the March press conference breaks down and cries when he thanks the local investigators for following the evidence wherever it might lead. Something big must be going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, and probably never will know about.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted May 9, 2016 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes.
      Good work, well done.

  23. gluonspring
    Posted May 10, 2016 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    Boy, how fickle news outlets are. It seemed like while it was going on this story was daily headline news. But now, if not for this site I would not have been aware of this development. I’m sure it’s somewhere on the CNN site to be found, but not on the front page.


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