New findings by law enforcement officials suggest that an FBI agent on the scene of the fatal shooting of Bundy-affiliated protester LaVoy Finicum during a Jun. 26 felony stop might have fired two shots that were not reported, and agents on the scene might have disposed of bullet casings to cover them up.
According to The Oregonian, investigators believe that the shots were fired approximately at the moment at which LaVoy Finicum was exiting his truck with his hands up, prior to when he appears to reach into his jacket and is shot by two Oregon State Police troopers. The above-embedded slow-motion video shows the moment at which investigators believe the shots were fired.
Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norri, who investigated the incident, concluded that the Oregon State Police officers were justified in shooting Finicum, but also announced that they believe that an FBI agent took two unreported shots and then lied about it. The U.S. Department of Justice has subsequently launched a criminal investigation into the conduct of the FBI agents on the scene.
The Oregonian’s Les Zaitz wrote, “A state trooper later described to investigators seeing two rifle casings in the area where the [FBI] agents were posted. Detectives tasked with collecting evidence didn’t find the casings, police reports indicate.”
He added, “FBI aerial surveillance video shows that before the detectives could get there, the FBI agents searched the area with flashlights and then huddled, according to law enforcement sources who have seen the video. The group then broke and one agent appeared to bend over twice and pick up something near where the two shots likely were taken.”
Police reports indicate that detectives showed up to collect evidence around 90 minutes after the moment in the surveillance video in which the FBI agent appeared to pick items up from the ground.
All of the FBI agents on the scene that day claimed that they did not take any shots. A state trooper said he had fired three shots while the truck was speeding towards police and two more at Finicum as he was reaching into his jacket after he had exited the vehicle. Police inventory records show that the trooper was missing five rounds after the incident, apparently confirming his story. A fourth bullet hole in the truck came from a different angle of trajectory suggesting that an FBI agent had fired the shot. Investigators believe a second shot, which missed Finicum and did not strike the truck, was also fired by an FBI agent.
Law enforcement officials say that the FBI agents’ weapons and ammo were not inventoried on the scene that day because they claimed not to have fired any rounds.
FBI special agent in charge Greg Bretzing announced at a press conference last week, “The question of who fired these shots has not been resolved.” He declined to provide further comment noting that the federal investigation is still underway.