by Jay Syrmopoulos
Burns, OR — The FBI just released video footage taken from a surveillance craft of the killing of Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum. The footage clearly shows Finicum with his hands up and not charging at any officers, as has been alleged in numerous media accounts, but making movements that law enforcement claim to have interpreted as him reaching for a loaded firearm contained in his pocket.
The footage was shot from an FBI plane flying above the strategic ambush on Tuesday that ended with the shooting of Finicum, one of the spokesmen for the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The video was shown during an FBI press conference in Harney County held by Oregon FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing.
The intense footage reveals Finicum attempted to swerve to avoid a roadblock, with him ditching the vehicle onto its side in an attempt not to hit an agent who jumped out in front of the speeding truck. At this point, the truck becomes stuck in a snow bank. Finicum can then be seen exiting the vehicle with his arms raised above his head, he then makes a movement that the authorities claim was an attempt to reach for a 9mm weapon on his person, but which could also be interpreted as him attempting to open his coat to reveal his waistline or even him being shot and clutching at his wounds.
The footage reveals that when OSP shot Finicum, he wasn’t actually facing the officer that he was shot by, as he appeared to turn back toward the vehicle and it’s occupants who were being flash banged by the law enforcement. Two agents had him bracketed in a cross-fire position when he was gunned down, with one coming out of the woods after having been lying in wait for the planned ambush.
There was certainly no firefight, as alleged by nameless law enforcement sources, and Finicum had no weapon in hand when he was shot. What is clear is that Finicum was gunned down in the snow and left to die, sprawled out in the cold with his hands up, without being rendered any medical aid.
Finicum, a foster parent and rancher, was killed after being stopped by the FBI and state police, as he drove in a two-car convoy – including occupation leader Ammon Bundy – while driving to a meeting with a county sheriff.
Bretzing said that the video showed Finicum getting out of the car and reaching for his waist, and showed that he “made a movement” and reached his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket. Bretzing said Finicum had a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket.
“Actions have consequences,” Bretzing said. “As the video clearly shows it was a reckless action that resulted in consequences you have seen here today.” However, Bretzing would not say whether Finicum had pulled or even partially pulled a gun out of his pocket.
Regardless of how reckless Finicum’s actions may have been, the man was not holding a weapon when he was shot and the loss of life was not necessary in this situation. Whether the agents truly feared for their lives in the midst of a fast-paced assault, or simply gunned Finicum down out of a combination of adrenaline and fear will remain speculation.
Below is the video, so you can judge for yourself.
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Jay Syrmopoulos is a political analyst, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has been published on Ben Swann’s Truth in Media, Truth-Out, Raw Story, MintPress News, as well as many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.