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CEDAR CITY –A video has been released Thursday by the FBI of the shooting death of Robert LaVoy Finicum, an Arizona rancher who became the spokesman for the occupiers of an Oregon wildlife refuge in recent weeks.
The FBI said they showed the video at a news conference to counter claims that Finicum, who was killed Tuesday on a remote road, allegedly did nothing to provoke officers.
According to an FBI news release, Finicum had a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in his pocket and had attempted to reach for it on two different occasions before being shot by Oregon State Police.
The video shows Finicum appearing to touch both of his pockets with both hands but immediately puts his arms up in a surrender. The footage also shows a federal officer coming up behind Finicum from the woods. Finicum then turns around toward the officer, still with his hands up, at which time there is gunfire and Finicum falls into the snow.
During the same confrontation, the FBI and Oregon State Troopers arrested five main figures in the refuge occupation including Ammon Bundy, the group’s main leader.
The video, shot by the FBI from an airplane, shows a vehicle being driven by Bundy as it is stopped by police. A white truck driven by Finicum was also stopped but took off with officers in pursuit. The video shows Finicum’s vehicle going into a snowbank when encountering a roadblock.
“On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket,” said Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge for the FBI in Portland. “He did have a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in the pocket,” he said.
Bretzing also said Finicum’s truck nearly hit a law enforcement officer before hitting the snowbank and coming to stop, which the video does confirm.
“Actions have consequences,” Bretzing said. “The FBI and OSP tried to effect these arrests peacefully.”
Not everyone sees it that way.
On the Bundy Ranch community Facebook page, supporters of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge say Finicum’s death was cold-blooded murder.
“LaVoy placed himself in harms way to protect others in the vehicle,” a post on the Facebook community page reads. “He is a peacemaker who loves his neighbor … This cannot be America.”
A still image taken from the FBI video showing Finicum with his hands up, reads: “This is NOT a a man reaching for a gun. THIS is a man with hands up being executed because he is a patriot.”
The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday confirmed the person shot in the Tuesday confrontation was Finicum, a 54-year-old father and husband from Cane Beds, Arizona.
Meanwhile, four occupiers remained at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, demanding assurances they would not be arrested.
The occupation by ranchers and others began Jan. 2 and at one point it was reported there were a couple of dozen people inside the refuge. But it has since been emptying out with the death of Finicum and Bundy’s arrest along with 10 others over the past few days.
Oregon Public Broadcasting spoke with those who remained and identified them as Fry, who is from Ohio; husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Idaho; and Jeff Banta of Nevada. Fry told the station that Sean Anderson faces a federal arrest warrant.
All 11 people under arrest have been charged with a felony count of conspiring to impede federal officers from carrying out their duties through force or intimidation. Three of the 11 were arrested Wednesday night when they left the refuge.
Ammon Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a tense 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.
The group came to the desert of eastern Oregon in the dead of winter to decry what it calls an overreach of government in the taking of private property for more public lands and to object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers who spent three months in prison after which an appellate judge sent them back again for five more years.
In a criminal complaint Wednesday, federal authorities said the armed group had explosives and night-vision goggles and was prepared to fight.
The charges against Bundy and others say that the refuge’s 16 employees have been prevented from reporting to work because of threats of violence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
St. George News Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.
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