It’s too much to say, at this point, that the actual shooting of LaVoy Finicum, who participated in the “occupation” of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January, might be deemed criminal.
But forensic work done by the sheriff’s department of Deschutes County, Oregon suggests that some or all of the FBI agents involved in that 26 January incident were less than truthful in giving their account of events afterward.
That’s likely to fan the flames of anger about the treatment of ranchers by federal agencies. It has prompted a joint investigation by the Deschutes County sheriff and the inspector general of the U.S. Justice Department – and it could lead to charges against the agents.
At the center of the investigation is a bullet hole in the vehicle LaVoy Finicum was ordered to exit from, just before he was killed, apparently by FBI gunfire. Les Zaitz at the Oregonian has the story:
Investigators from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office could account for bullet holes in the left front hood, the driver’s side mirror and the front grille. They came from the automatic weapon of a state trooper who had fired three times at the truck as Finicum raced at 70 mph toward a police roadblock on Jan. 26.
The angle of a fourth bullet hole didn’t match the others.
An elaborate computer analysis, a review of the FBI aerial video of the shooting scene and a video from a passenger in Finicum’s pickup produced a result that startled the team poring over evidence into Finicum’s fatal shooting that day.
The fourth round, police concluded, was fired by an FBI agent who subsequently twice denied to investigators ever firing his gun. As the investigation proceeded, detectives determined he also fired a second time, but didn’t hit anything at the scene.
One investigator working on the task force pulled together by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office reported that he had been told soon after the shooting that two state troopers and two FBI agents had fired. He said the FBI agents approached him later to say they hadn’t fired their weapons.
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