Burns, OR – The FBI released video Thursday of the shooting death of a spokesman for the armed occupiers of a wildlife refuge that shows the man reaching into his jacket before he fell into the snow. The FBI said the man had a loaded gun in his pocket.
Authorities showed the video at a news conference to counter claims that the man killed in the Tuesday confrontation on a remote Oregon high country road — Robert Finicum — did nothing to provoke officers.
During that confrontation, the FBI and Oregon State Troopers arrested five main figures in the occupation, including Ammon Bundy, their leader.
The video, shot by the FBI from an airplane, shows Bundy’s vehicle stopped by police on a road. A white truck driven by Finicum was stopped but took off, with officers in pursuit. The video shows Finicum’s vehicle plowing into a snowbank when encountering a roadblock.
A man identified as Finicum gets out of the truck. At first, he has his hands up, but then he reaches into his pocket and he falls into the snow.
“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 9mm semi-automatic handgun in the pocket,” he said.
Bretzing also said Finicum’s truck nearly hit an FBI agent before it got stuck in the snow.
“Actions have consequences,” Bretzing said. “The FBI and OSP tried to effect these arrests peacefully.”
The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday confirmed the person shot in the Tuesday confrontation was Finicum, a 54-year-old Arizona rancher.
At the news conference in Burns, Bretzing said four occupiers are still holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. “The negotiators continue to work around the clock to talk to those four people in an effort to get them to come out peacefully,” he said.
The occupation by ranchers and others began on Jan. 2, and at one point there were a couple of dozen people holed up, demanding that the federal government turn public lands over to local control. But the compound has been emptying out since the arrest of Bundy, and 10 others over the past few days, and with the death of Finicum.
Oregon Public Broadcasting spoke with the holdouts and identified them as David 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.
Ammon Bundy on Thursday released a statement through his attorney repeating his call for the last occupiers to leave peacefully: “Turn yourselves in and do not use physical force.”
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 onerous federal land restrictions and to object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of setting fires.
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.