© 2023 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
KSOR Header background image 1
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Documents: OSP Moved Fatal Traffic Stop To Avoid Grant County Sheriff

During an interview with investigators about the shooting death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an OSP officer said officials were originally considering a location in Grant County for the traffic stop operation, a newly released investigation report shows.

Had the stop occurred in Grant County, then the group would have been closer to Sheriff Glenn Palmer, and the entire interaction would have taken place within Palmer’s jurisdiction.

And that’s exactly why law enforcement opted not to make the traffic stop within Grant County boundaries, said the OSP officer, identified in the documents as “Officer No. 1.”

Law enforcement designed the Jan. 26 stop to arrest leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

“I knew going into it that there was a sheriff in Grant County that was supporting the movement or the ideology behind what were pushing,” Officer No. 1 told investigators.

“I knew that there was a large amount of community members in Grant County that supported their beliefs … for a very simple way to put it it, they were not friendly to law enforcement conducting any enforcement actions, and mainly the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal agencies,” the officer said.

The change of plan, which was coordinated by the FBI and OSP, is noteworthy because the militant group was reportedly planning to meet with Palmer.

In video released this week, Finicum can be heard yelling out the window of his parked truck to OSP officers.

"I’m going over to meet with the Sheriff in Grant County," Finicum shouted. "You can come along with us and talk with us over there.”

The arrest of the militant leaders, including Ammon Bundy, and the shooting of Finicum did eventually take place in Harney County along Highway 395.

Sheriff Palmer has said that he met with some of the occupiers prior to the Jan. 26 incident but has denied that he was planning to meet with the militants that night.

The state agency that licenses law enforcement officers has recommended the state Department of Justice investigate Palmer’s conduct. That’s after the agency received several formal complaints about Palmer’s communication with the occupiers. The DOJ has not yet announced whether it will pursue an investigation into Sheriff Palmer.

Palmer did not return OPB’s requests for comment.

On Thursday, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office released a redacted report of the investigation into the Jan. 26 officer-involved shooting death of Finicum, a leader of the occupation at the refuge.

The 360-page report from the Central Oregon Major Incident Team is only part of the investigation. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office said more documents would be made available as redactions are complete.

Investigators said at a Tuesday press conference that eight shots were fired that day — six from the OSP and two by members of the FBI hostage rescue team. The two shots fired by FBI officials will be the subject of another investigation, because the agents did not initially disclose firing at Finicum.

The interviews of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team are not included in Thursday's release because they’re part of the ongoing investigation by the Federal Inspector General’s Office.

<p>Ammon Bundy, one of the leaders of the armed occupation in Harney County, Oregon, talks tactics with occupiers at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.</p>

Kristian Foden-Vencil

/
/

Ammon Bundy, one of the leaders of the armed occupation in Harney County, Oregon, talks tactics with occupiers at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

<p>More than 300 people gathered in Burns to march through town, across the packed snow, in protest of the Hammond&rsquo;s five-year sentence.</p>

Amelia Templeton

/
/

More than 300 people gathered in Burns to march through town, across the packed snow, in protest of the Hammond’s five-year sentence on Jan. 2.

<p>Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was the occupation's de facto spokesperson. After he was killed Jan. 26, Finicum became an even more critical figure in the splintered movement.</p>

Amelia Templeton

/
/

Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was the occupation's de facto spokesperson. After he was killed Jan. 26, Finicum became an even more critical figure in the splintered movement.

<p>Ryan Bundy told OPB that he and the other armed men occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters will leave if Harney County residents want them to. The self-proclaimed militiamen have been occupying the buildings since Saturday, Jan. 2.</p>

Amanda Peacher

/
/

Ryan Bundy told OPB that he and the other armed men occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters will leave if Harney County residents want them to. The self-proclaimed militiamen took over the buildings since Saturday, Jan. 2.

<p>One of the protesters, who gave the name "Captain Moroni," guards the entrance to the refuge Sunday. "Moroni" said he was disappointed that more protesters did not&nbsp;arrive after a widespread call on social media.</p>

Amanda Peacher

/
/

One of the protesters, Dylan Anderson, who gave the name "Captain Moroni," guards the entrance to the refuge. "Moroni" said he was disappointed that more protesters did not arrive after a widespread call on social media.

<p>A new militant from Arkansas guards the entrance to the occupied refuge on Jan. 14.</p>

Amanda Peacher

/
/

A new militant from Arkansas guards the entrance to the occupied refuge on Jan. 14.

<p>Kristi Jernigan, Christian missionary from Tennessee, stirs a pot of chili. She stayed at the occupied refuge for about a week before returning home. &ldquo;I am here strictly to bring people to salvation if that is God&rsquo;s will,&rdquo; she said.</p>

Amanda Peacher

/
/

Kristi Jernigan, Christian missionary from Tennessee, stirs a pot of chili. She stayed at the occupied refuge for about a week before returning home. “I am here strictly to bring people to salvation if that is God’s will,” she said.

<p>Those who want the armed militants to leave Eastern Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, keep ripping down a sign the occupiers keeps putting back up.</p>

Kris Millgate, Tight Line Media

/
/

Those who want the armed militants to leave Eastern Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, keep ripping down a sign the occupiers keeps putting back up.

<p>An armed man with a group called the Pacific Patriots Network. The network arrived in Harney County Saturday, Jan. 9, claiming to secure the scene of the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.</p>

Dave Blanchard

/
/

An armed man with a group called the Pacific Patriots Network. The network arrived in Harney County Saturday, Jan. 9, claiming to secure the scene of the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

<p>Brandon Curtiss, president of 3% of Idaho, at the Harney County Committee of Safety meeting Friday in Burns.</p>

Dave Blanchard

/
/

Brandon Curtiss, president of 3% of Idaho, at the Harney County Committee of Safety meeting Friday, Jan. 8, in Burns.

<p>Ammon Bundy removes a fence separating the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from ranching land.</p>

Jes Burns

/
/

Ammon Bundy removes a fence separating the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from ranching land.

<p>The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that this road within the refuge complex is new construction.</p>

Amanda Peacher

/
/

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that this road within the refuge complex is new construction.

<p>Outdoor enthusiasts gather at The Narrows on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest its occupation by armed militants.</p>

Kristian Foden-Vencil

/
/

Outdoor enthusiasts gather at The Narrows on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest its occupation by armed militants in January.

<p>A meeting in Burns grew tense on Tuesday, Jan. 19, as community members discussed the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.</p>

Amanda Peacher

/
/

A meeting in Burns grew tense on Tuesday, Jan. 19, as community members discussed the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

<p>Harney County Judge Steve Grasty at a community meeting in Burns on Tuesday, Jan. 19.</p>

Amanda Peacher

/
/

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty at a community meeting in Burns on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

<p>An FBI guard guides a truck out of the compound near the Burns Airport.</p>

John Sepulvado

/
/

An FBI guard guides a truck out of the compound near the Burns Airport.

<p>FBI officials say any vehicles approaching the checkpoints outside the refuge will be stopped and searched, and all occupants of the vehicles must present identification.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

/
/

FBI officials said any vehicles approaching the checkpoints outside the refuge would be stopped and searched, and all occupants of the vehicles were to present identification.

20160128_state police_burns_BP_IMG_0634

Bradley W. Parks

/
/

State police at a roadblock near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

<p>State troopers monitoring the situation.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

/
/

State troopers monitoring a roadblock near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

<p>Burns Paiute Tribal Chair Charlotte Roderique watches as the FBI releases video of the traffic stop, which led to the arrest of militant leaders and death of LaVoy Finicum.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

/
/

Burns Paiute Tribal Chair Charlotte Roderique watches as the FBI releases video of the traffic stop, which led to the arrest of militant leaders and death of LaVoy Finicum.

<p>FBI footage showing the joint FBI and Oregon State Police traffic stop and OSP officer-involved shooting of Robert &ldquo;LaVoy&rdquo; Finicum.</p>
/
/

FBI footage showing the joint FBI and Oregon State Police traffic stop and OSP officer-involved shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.

<p>Mourners wore ribbons, and some pinned squares cut from a blue tarp to their coats, a reference to a nickname some gave Finicum during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.</p>

Amelia Templeton

/
/

Mourners wore ribbons, and some pinned squares cut from a blue tarp to their coats, a reference to a nickname some gave Finicum during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

<p>David Fry, a 27-year-old from Ohio, is one of the last remaining occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.</p>

Amanda Peacher

/
/

David Fry, a 27-year-old from Ohio, was one of the last remaining occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He surrendered Feb. 11.

<p>A Washington County Sheriff's vehicle blocks the road leading to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The 41-day armed occupation of the refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.</p>

Dave Blanchard

/
/

A Washington County Sheriff's vehicle blocks the road leading to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The 41-day armed occupation of the refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.

<p>Law enforcement vehicles leave the Burns airport. The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.</p>

Dave Blanchard

/
/

Law enforcement vehicles leave the Burns airport. The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.

<p>A law enforcement helicopter takes off from the Burns airport. The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.</p>

Dave Blanchard

/
/

A law enforcement helicopter takes off from the Burns airport. The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.

<p>Harney County Sheriff David Ward expressed his thankfulness for the patience and persistence of law enforcement and the community of Burns. The occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.</p>

Dave Blanchard

/
/

Harney County Sheriff David Ward expressed his thankfulness for the patience and persistence of law enforcement and the community of Burns. The occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended Thursday, Feb. 11.

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Amanda Peacher