BURNS, Oregon (AP) — A video released Thursday by the FBI of the shooting death of a spokesman for the armed occupiers of a wildlife refuge shows the man reaching into his jacket before he fell into the snow. The FBI said the man had a gun in his pocket.
The FBI showed the video at a news conference to counter claims that the man killed in the Tuesday confrontation on a remote 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 main leader.
The video, shot by the FBI from an airplane, shows a vehicle being driven by Bundy by 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 going into a snowbank when encountering a roadblock.
A man identified by Finicum gets out of the truck, there is gunfire as he reaches into his jacket, 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.
Meanwhile, four occupiers remained at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, demanding assurances they not be arrested.
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 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.
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.