Following the Department of Justice’s announcement that Oregon State Troopers were justified in shooting and killing Oregon protestor Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on Jan. 26, cellphone video was released which gave additional insight to the events leading up to the shooting.
The video, which was released by The Oregonian on Tuesday, was taken by Shawna Cox, 59, one of the passengers in the truck Finicum was driving. Other passengers included Ryan Bundy, 43, Ryan Payne, 32, and Victoria Sharp, 18. Both Finicum, 54, and the passengers, were part of a group of protesters occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Burns, Oregon.
The DoJ claimed Finicum was struck by three bullets fired by Oregon State Troopers after he exited the truck during an encounter with the FBI and reached for a gun at his side. While the FBI released footage from a plane flying over the area at the time of the shooting, it did not include any type of audio.
The cellphone video gives the first glimpse with audio into Finicum’s deadly encounter with federal officials. It starts with a traffic stop, when the protesters are pulled over by Oregon State Police while traveling along U.S. Highway 395.
“The sheriff is waiting for us, so you do as you damn well please, but I’m not going anywhere,” said Finicum, leaning out of the driver-side window of the truck. “Here I am, right there. Right there, put a bullet through it. You understand? I’m going to go meet the sheriff. Back down or you kill me now.”
The officer’s speech is not clear in the video, and Finicum continues yelling, “If you want my blood on your hands, get a gun, because we’ve got people to see and places to go.”
The passengers in the car begin to question whether they should flee the scene, and they note that a second vehicle of protestors behind them is also being pulled over, and communicating with the State Troopers.
While waiting, Cox says, “We have no service here,” and another passenger says, “We should never have stopped.” They question whether the officers will shoot out their tires if they leave the scene, and then all passengers duck down, and Finicum begins to drive away.
As the truck progress down the road, it enters a blockade set up by Oregon State Police and the FBI, and Finicum veers to the left, ands drives off of the road into a snow bank.
Finicum gets out of the vehicle with his hands up, and yells, “Go ahead and shoot me!”
Immediately surrounded by officers, Finicum continues to yell, “Shoot me, shoot me!” He puts his hand on his left side, and then the State Troopers surrounding him fire several consecutive shots.
While Finicum is lying in the snow and the other protesters are huddled in the vehicle, one begins to open the backdoor on the driver side, and then another round is fired at the car. He closed the door as another two rounds are fired.
Following the announcement that the DoJ has ruled that the Finicum shooting was justified, LaVoy’s Finicum’s wife, Jeanette Finicum, released a statement Tuesday claiming that the police are bringing forward “selective evidence.”
“This was not a traffic stop,” Jeanette Finicum said. “It was an ambush with a roadblock placed on a blind curve along a lonely stretch of highway. I am told that in law enforcement and prosecuting circles this is called a ‘Dead man’s blockade,’ and is designed to allow a ‘kill stop’ which is illegal.”
An autopsy of Finicum reportedly showed that he was struck by three bullets from behind: one pierced his heart, and two struck his shoulder. Police claimed they found a loaded 9mm. semiautomatic handgun on Finicum’s body.
Jeanette Finicum said she does not believe her husband was reaching for a gun when he was shot. Instead, she argued that he was reaching to his side because he was reacting to a gunshot wound to the leg.
“The FBI said Finicum was shot after reaching for a gun,” Jeanette Finicum said. “We reject that statement. The FBI’s aerial video was of poor quality, edited and provided no audio. Our family asserts that he was shot with both hands up; he was not reaching for anything at the time of the first shot. He was walking with his hands in the air, a symbol of surrender. When he reached down to his left hip he was reacting to the pain of having been shot.”
Federal officials announced Tuesday that two of the rounds fired, which did not contribute to Finicum’s death but were aimed at the vehicle, were not reported by the FBI. As a result, both the agent who fired the rounds and four other agents who are suspected of helping him cover it up, are under criminal investigation for failing for report the gunshots.