When Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum was shot to death by law enforcement officers in Oregon on January 26, the initial joint statement by the FBI and Oregon State Police was very vague, not even mentioning Finicum by name.
“At approximately 4:25 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Oregon State Police (OSP) began an enforcement action to bring into custody a number of individuals associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,” the statement reads. “During that arrest, there were shots fired,” it continues. “One individual who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest is deceased.”
Two days later, on January 28, Greg Bretzing, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon, held another press conference to release an aerial video of the shooting taken from an FBI plane. The video, according to Bretzing, confirms the FBI/OSP version of the incident, which claims that Finicum, who had his hands up in the air, was shot because he was reaching toward his pocket, where, according to the FBI, he was carrying a loaded 9mm handgun.
While most of the “mainstream” media reports uncritically accepted the FBI claim, the video does not unequivocally support that interpretation of the event. As we reported, the FBI video is a grainy and often out-of-focus video, and since it was taken from considerable altitude, it only provides an overhead perspective. Moreover, there is no audio, so there is no way to ascertain how many shots were fired, or when they were fired.
The movement of Mr. Finicum’s right hand, may just as well have been — as critics point out — that he was trying to balance himself in the slippery, deep snow, or was grabbing his side in an involuntary reaction to having already been shot.
In our earlier article on the FBI video, we asked:
• In an operation of this size, with all of the local, state, and federal resources and manpower deployed, were there no other video or audio recordings?
• Were there no dash-cams on the vehicles or body-cams/body-mics on the troopers and FBI agents?
• Where is Finicum’s truck and has there been any independent verification of the number of bullet holes in it?
And we added: "It is highly unlikely that there are not additional video and audio recordings."
Apparently, there were additional cameras, as we suspected. First of all, Shawna Cox, one of the two female passengers in Finicum’s pickup truck, says she was videotaping the event with her smart phone, which was confiscated when she was arrested along with the remaining passengers, after the shooting.
Additionally, at least a portion of one video has surfaced in news accounts, purportedly showing the arrest of Ryan Payne, one of the passengers in Finicum’s pickup. The images (shown above and to the right) have been making the rounds on many websites sympathetic to Finicum, the Bundys, and the Hammonds. The New American has queried the FBI and OSP by telephone and e-mail concerning these images but had not received a response by the time this story was posted. We have not been able to verify that the object circled in the photo to the right is indeed an “FBI Helmet Camera” (or that the individual shown is an FBI agent), but, obviously, someone at the scene shot the video/photo images, so there was at least one other camera on the ground at the FBI-OSP roadblock. Very likely, other agents and troopers also were fitted with cameras.
In releasing the initial aerial video, Agent Bretzing said “we want to do what we can to lay out an honest and unfiltered view of what happened and how it happened.” He also said that in spite of the graphic details included in the video, “we feel that it is necessary to show the whole thing unedited in the interest of transparency.”
If the Obama Justice Department and FBI are truly interested in “transparency” and laying out “an honest and unfiltered view of what happened and how it happened,” they will release Shawna Cox’s video, as well as all other police/FBI video and audio recordings of the shooting.