Investigators: Oregon State Police justified in shooting death of LaVoy Finicum
The six shots fired by Oregon State Police (OSP) -- including the three that killed LaVoy Finicum -- were "justified and necessary" on Jan. 26, Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris said Tuesday.
He and Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson led the investigation into OSP's actions in the shooting.
Arizona rancher Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was shot by law enforcement after speeding away from a traffic stop on Highway 395, crashing into an embankment and running from police. Officials said eight shots were fired and three of them were deadly.
Authorities synchronized cellphone video from inside the truck recorded by fellow Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation member Shawna Cox with aerial footage from a surveillance plane to detail points of the investigation.
Finicum refused to get out of the truck during a traffic stop of two vehicles on Highway 395. Several militia members were taken into custody during the course of the stop, including occupation leader Ammon Bundy.
"You back down or you kill me now," Finicum yells to Oregon State Police. "OK boys, this is going to get real. You want my blood on your hands?"
The three others inside the truck agree to drive away from the traffic stop, which is a Class C felony in Oregon, Norris said.
A state trooper fired three shots at the truck to try and stop Finicum as he sped toward a road block, according to authorities. None of the shots hit anyone inside the truck.
Under Oregon law, Norris said Finicum was using his pickup as a weapon. Law enforcement and citizens are justified under state law in using deadly force against someone they reasonably believe is about to use unlawful deadly force against them.
The recordings captured Finicum yelling "go ahead and shoot me" as he exited the truck.
Sheriff Nelson said FBI agents fired two more shots as Finicum got out. The involved agents are under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, Nelson said, for not disclosing the shots they fired in the incident.
Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said it's unclear who fired the shots.
After law enforcement repeatedly ordered Finicum to get on the ground, authorities said he reached twice for a loaded gun in his pocket. He was then shot three times in the back by two Oregon State Police troopers.
Investigators said one trooper was trying to use a stun gun to subdue Finicum before the deadly shooting. Norris said troopers were justified under Oregon law in firing the three shots into the truck and the three shots that hit Finicum.
The sheriff and DA said they notified the U.S. attorney for Oregon, the FBI and the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Justice after determining that FBI operators fired one and possibly two shots that they did not disclose to the interagency team investigating the incident.
"We will not be releasing the names of any law enforcement officers involved in this matter due to concerns for their safety and the safety of their families," Norris said.
- Oregon House passes bill to protect ID of officer who killed Finicum
- Family of militant shot and killed: 'He was there to stand for freedom'
- FBI: Finicum nearly struck agent, reached for loaded weapon before he was shot and killed
Gov. Kate Brown released a statement regarding the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office investigation of the officer-involved shooting:
"Any loss of life is regrettable and I appreciate that the independent investigation into the actions of Oregon State Police was completed swiftly and thoroughly," Gov. Brown said. "Additional questions the investigation raised about the actions of federal agents who were also involved are troubling and properly the subject of an ongoing investigation."