4 Key Details Revealed By LaVoy Finicum Investigation Report
Several new details came to light Thursday regarding the circumstances of the officer-involved shooting death of Robert “LaVoy" Finicum.
Finicum, an Arizona rancher and one of the leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, was killed by law enforcement during a Jan. 26 traffic stop operation.
The Central Oregon Major Incident Team released 360 pages of documents Thursday, including photos, a list of autopsy evidence, interviews with Oregon State Police officers and diagrams of the fatal traffic stop along Highway 395.
The report is only part of the investigation. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office said more documents would be made available as redactions are complete.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
1. Two OSP officers shot Finicum, but a third nearly fired
Investigators said Tuesday that Finicum was shot three times by two different officers. During interviews, both officers said they saw Finicum reaching into his jacket where he had a 9 mm handgun. For that reason, both officers said they opted to shoot.
Another OSP officer had also already reached that decision.
“At that point, I made the decision to shoot and was reaching out to get my safety off,” the officer told investigators. By the time the safety was off, the officer said, Finicum had already been hit and it was no longer necessary to shoot.
2. OSP was expecting another vehicle to be involved in the stop
According to statements from two of the the officers, in briefings before the traffic stop, law enforcement planned for a third vehicle in the traffic stop.
In addition to those driven by Ammon Bundy and LaVoy Finicum, officers at the scene were also expecting a rancher in a maroon SUV, according to the report.
It’s not clear if that vehicle actually made the drive or not, but it was not detained during the traffic stop.
3. Two citizen vehicles approached police roadblocks
A white pickup and another pickup towing a horse trailer approached police roadblocks along Highway 395 at some point during the incident, according to the report. It’s not clear how much, if anything, these people were able to witness from the scene, but two OSP officer said they collected statements from them, but those statements are not included in this document release.
4. Investigators wanted to know if shell casings were taken
In interviews during the days after the shooting, investigators repeatedly asked OSP officers about gun shell casings from the scene.
“Did you happen to see ... anybody, um picking anything up? Like, specifically the rifle brass,” asked the interviewer, after an officer told him he had noticed two casings at the scene of the shooting.
OSP officers said they did not see anyone actively removing shell casings from the scene.
The documents do not make it clear why investigators inquired about the shell casings. But in a Tuesday press conference, investigators said they eventually learned that FBI agents did not immediately reveal they had fired two shots as Finicum exited his truck.
Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting