FBI agent indicted in Oregon refuge standoff that left LaVoy Finicum dead

A image from footage taken from an FBI plane following the events of events surrounding the encounter between the Oregon protesters and the FBI and Oregon State Police. Shown in the image is LaVoy Finicum outside of his truck moments before being shot by law enforcement offircers, Oregan, Jan. 26. 2016 | Photo courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, St.George News

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An FBI agent has been indicted on accusations that he lied about firing at rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum in 2016 when officers arrested leaders of an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon.

Sources familiar with the case say the agent will face allegations of making a false statement with intent to obstruct justice, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday.

The indictment stems from a more than yearlong investigation by the U.S. Justice Department inspector general. The agent will be identified when summoned to appear Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Authorities moved in on Ammon Bundy and other leaders as they were driving in two vehicles from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to a meeting on Jan. 26, 2016.

The Deschutes County sheriff said that as Finicum left his truck, an FBI agent shot twice at Finicum, though none of the hostage team members said they discharged their firearms. The county sheriff’s office was tasked with investigating the Finicum shooting.

The FBI agent’s bullets didn’t hit Finicum, 54, an Arizona rancher who was the spokesman for the takeover near Burns in Harney County.

State police troopers then shot Finicum three times after he emerged from his truck and reached for his inner jacket pocket, where police said he had a loaded 9mm handgun.

One bullet pierced his heart, an autopsy found.

The Oregon investigators determined that one agent fired at Finicum’s pickup, hitting it in the roof and missing on the second shot. Federal law forbids “knowingly and willfully” making any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation or concealing information.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Gorder Jr. revealed in court papers last year that a grand jury was reviewing the FBI actions.

Less than two months after the shooting, the FBI acknowledged that a federal agent was under investigation for firing shots, and four other members of his FBI team were under investigation for covering up the gunshots. The status of the investigation into the other FBI team members is unclear.

It’s not clear if the indicted agent is on leave or has been dismissed from the job. The hostage team is part of the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group, based out of Quantico, Virginia.

U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams in Oregon has scheduled a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the federal courthouse. His spokesman, Kevin Sonoff, declined comment. Portland’s FBI spokeswoman Jennifer Adams said she was unaware of the matter.

Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, oregonlive.com.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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6 Comments

  • Not_So_Much June 28, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Let the truth come to the light of day.

  • KarenS June 28, 2017 at 9:11 am

    The FBI agent rightly should be charged but his actions did not affect the outcome. Mr. Finicum had already fled the first traffic stop. At the first stop, one of his passengers did exit the vehicle without incident. In addition, all of the passengers in the other vehicle also exited their vehicle at the first stop without incident.

    It was Mr. Finicum who drove away from the traffic stop at a high rate of speed and attempted to swerve around the second stop that caused the actions which led to his death. There were three shots from Oregon State Police that hit him as he reached for a gun. Those shots were ruled justified.

    • DRT June 28, 2017 at 9:50 am

      The agent is not being charged with shooting Finicum. It is well documented that he did not shoot him.
      The agent is being charged with lying to investigators. And obstructing justice.

      • KarenS June 28, 2017 at 10:56 am

        I didn’t say that the FBI agent was being charged with shooting Finicum. I was just commenting on the story which is all about the FBI agent being charged with lying about his actions. The OSP shots were determined to be justified. The FBi agents actions had no effect on the outcome. It was Finicum who determined his own fate.

        • DRT June 28, 2017 at 12:48 pm

          My bad, Karen. Guess I had a reading comprehension problem this morning.

    • Chris June 28, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Correct. None of this news affects our understanding of how Finicum came to be shot, only that a federal agent lied in a related matter. Finicum’s obvious stupidity (or suicidal tendency) is, in no way, diminished by this new development. It is important to note that the men who actually shot Finicum, the state police, are not under any cloud of investigation.

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