FBI video purports to show slain Oregon occupier LaVoy Finicum reaching for a gun

Aerial FBI footage of the shooting of LaVoy Finicum
(Image credit: FBI/YouTube)

Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a spokesman for the armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, reached toward a gun in his pocket before he was shot by law officers on Tuesday afternoon, according to a video the FBI released Thursday night at a news conference. (Note: the video does show Finicum being shot.) Filmed from an FBI aircraft, the footage appears to show occupation leader Ammon Bundy and passengers in his truck surrendering at the FBI and Oregon State Police checkpoint, but Finicum speeding off, then running into a snow bank when he encountered a roadblock, nearly running down an FBI agent.

When he got out of the car, Finicum at first raised his hands, but "on at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket," Greg Bretzing, the FBI special agent in charge or Oregon, said at the news conference. "He did have a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket. At this time, OSP troopers shot Finicum." Bretzing said law officers provided Finicum medical assistance after about 10 minutes, after they were "confident that they had addressed any further threats." The FBI released the video in part to counter the claims of some Finicum supporters that the Arizona rancher had been shot without provocation.

Four militants remain holed up at the Malheur refuge, outside Burns, and they say they won't leave unless the FBI promises not to arrest them, specifically Sean Anderson, who they say is subject to a federal warrant. "Prison isn't an option," occupier Sandy Anderson, Sean Anderson's wife, told Oregon Public Broadcasting. "We're free Americans," Sean Anderson said in a YouTube video posted earlier Thursday. "This isn't Nazi Germany. We don't need checkpoints. We don't need felony charges." Bundy, through his attorney, urged the holdouts Thursday to "turn yourselves in and do not use physical force." On Wednesday night, one of the remaining protesters, David Fry, told OBP that "we have new leaders now and new plans."

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Bundy and 10 other occupiers have been arrested and charged with federal felonies related to intimidating, threatening, and impeding the work of federal officers.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.