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FBI agents failed to disclose shots fired at armed Oregon occupier

Robert "LaVoy" Finicum. Still image from The Oregonian / YouTube

The Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Justice has launched an investigation connected to the fatal shooting of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, one of the participants in the armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Finicum, who was the spokesperson of the takeover, was killed on January 26 outside of the refuge. The shooting has been deemed justified but the probe seeks to determine why agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to disclose two shots they fired during the incident.

"The question of who fired these shots has not been resolved," FBI Portland Special Agent in Charge Gregory T. Bretzing said in a statement.

None of the shots believed to have been fired by FBI's hostage rescue team struck Finicum, according to an investigation by the Tri-County Major Incident Team. He was killed by shots fired by Oregon State Police troopers, Bretzing said.

Still, it's not clear why the FBI agents did not explain their actions so that's why DOJ is stepping in.

"We look forward to working closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon, as well as state and local officials as we review this matter," Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said in a statement. "Because our investigation is ongoing, we will be unable to provide any further information until it is complete. We will publicly disclose our findings at that time.”

The FBI released additional and graphic video of the incident that was filmed by one of the passengers in Finicum's car. The footage can be viewed on The Oregonian website and it shows Finicum taunting law enforcement officers and telling them so shoot and kill him.

Finicum, who was 54, refused to leave the vehicle after first being stopped by officers. He drove away at what appears to be a high speed and ran off the road when he encountered another law enforcement roadblock. That's where the fatal shooting took place.

A total of 25 people have been charged in connection with the 41-day occupation at the site. The defendants include Eric Lee Flores, a 22-year-old member of the Tulalip Tribes who reportedly went back and forth between the refuge and his reservation in early January, when the takeover began.

The land in and around the refuge was initially set aside as a reservation for the Burns Paiute Tribe in the late 1800s but the federal government took 1.78 million acres from the Northern Paiute people and forced them to march to reservations in neighboring Washington.

After the Paiutes were allowed to return, they were placed on a much-smaller reservation in present-day Burns, about 30 miles from the refuge. The tribe repeatedly called for the anti-government protesters to leave their ancestral territory and has been concerned about damage to sacred sites and artifacts.

Get the Story:
New Video Details LaVoy Finicum Traffic Stop, Shooting (Oregon Public Broadcasting 3/8)
FBI agents under investigation for possible misconduct in LaVoy Finicum shooting (The Oregonian 3/9)
Police shooting of Oregon occupier LaVoy Finicum deemed justified; FBI agents being investigated (The Washington Post 3/9)
Police Shooting of Oregon Occupier Declared Justified, but F.B.I. Faces Inquiry (The New York Times 3/9)

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