Police release video to defend shooting of militant

BURNS, Ore. -- The FBI this evening released an aerial video of the Tuesday encounter between authorities and several Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupants on a highway north of here during which Oregon State Police shot and killed LaVoy Finicum.

The video, which was shown to media and residents at the Chamber of Commerce downtown, was released to address claims by refuge occupants and their sympathizers that police shot Finicum after he had surrendered and was not a threat.

Police said Finicum crashed his truck into a snowbank after trying to drive around a barricade, nearly hitting an FBI agent. The video shows him leaving the driver’s seat. Police said he reached his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket, where there was a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun.

The video shows Finicum's arms come up, but it’s not clear from the video whether he was holding a gun. He reached toward his belt and was shot and fell to the ground in the snow.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing did not say whether Finicum was holding a gun, only saying that fact would come out in the investigation.

Thirty seconds later, police say, they deployed flash bangs to disorient any other armed occupants. Shortly after, they deployed less-lethal sponge projectiles with OC capsules, similar to pepper spray.

“We did everything we could to bring this situation to a peaceful resolution,” said Bretzing, who narrated the events on the video screen.

Bretzing would not say if any of those riding with the Bundys discharged their weapons. He also did not say how many times police fired, though he said it was in the single digits.

The total enforcement action lasted 25 minutes and was videotaped by two police aircraft that hovered above the pine trees in the Malheur National Forest.


Release of the video came as police continue to monitor checkpoints to the east, west and south of the refuge headquarters, where four militants remain.

Checkpoints have been moved closer to the entrance of the compound to improve road access for local residents and workers, but media are still being kept far back.

Remaining militants include David Fry of Ohio, who has streamed much of the past hours of the occupation on YouTube, and Sean and Sandy Anderson, a married couple from Riggins, Idaho.

Various videos show the militants amassing weapons, moving earth with a backhoe and lounging in Coleman camp chairs around a fire.

At times, they’ve appeared eager for a gunbattle with police.

This morning, the Andersons were filmed in their camouflage jackets sharing a slow dance to the song “Tangled up in You” by Staind.

“We want to live,” Anderson said to the camera. “We want to go home peacefully, safely. We’re free Americans. This isn’t Nazi Germany.”

The militants said they wanted the FBI to spare them arrest.

Fry said they’d been informed that Sean Anderson would face the same charges as Ammon and Ryan Bundy: conspiracy to interfere with U.S. officials through the use of force or intimidation, a federal felony that carries a sentence of up to six years in prison.

Bretzing said the FBI has never made guarantees that militants who leave will not face legal consequences.