The case of LaVoy Finicum, the rancher who was gunned down in Oregon earlier this year, may have disappeared from the main stream press, but you can be sure that it is still a hot topic in rural America where they see it as a clear cut case of murder by government authorities. The situation embarrassed local and federal authorities as farmers and ranchers continued their protest against government overreach and land theft, which was carried in national newspapers for weeks on end.
The end result was that Finicum, one of the leaders in the debacle, advised officials that he was going to the next town to meet with the sheriff there. County sheriffs have tremendous jurisdiction over the area that they oversee, and that would have been a problem for law enforcement and the FBI Hostage Rescue Team which was on site. Enroute to the meeting, Finicums truck was forced off the road into a snow bank, Finicum got out of the truck with hands raised, then tried to approach officers with his hands held wide, but was gunned down in cold blood there in the snow. There is both helicopter footage as well as a cell phone record of the incident, and it is causing some major concerns among law enforcement and the FBI.
It is clear from the helicopter footage that Finicums murder was a set up, with the objective of stopping the rancher’s protest in its tracks. The FBI would like to lay the responsibility of the shooting on the out of control local police, but there is new evidence pointing the the FBI and their crack marksmen.
New details have emerged that an agent with the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team may have opened fire on Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, one of the central players in an anti-government standoff in Oregon, after Finicum’s truck crashed near a police roadblock.
Several members of the FBI unit were present Jan. 26 when authorities attempted to stop two vehicles carrying leaders of the standoff away from their stronghold at a remote federal wildlife refuge. During the encounter, two Oregon state troopers shot and killed Finicum; eight other people were arrested.
Last week, Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson, who is overseeing the investigation, said he had concluded that “FBI HRT operators fired two shots as Mr. Finicum exited the truck, and one shot hit the truck.” Nelson accused the agents of failing to “disclose their shots to our investigators.”
The five FBI agents have denied firing assault rifles during the incident. But in a recently released interview, an Oregon State Police officer told investigators that he spotted two copper-colored rifle casings near the spot where the FBI agents were standing. The Hostage Rescue Team has used copper- colored casings, former agents said; the Oregon state police use only silver-colored casings. The copper casings were never recovered.
Meanwhile, the Portland Oregonian reported Tuesday that FBI surveillance video taken after the shooting shows the agents searching the area with flashlights and huddling. One of them then bends over twice and appears to be picking up something.
On Wednesday, a law enforcement official confirmed the video account. If allegations of a coverup are determined to be true, the incident would be hugely embarrassing to the FBI and deal a devastating blow to the FBI team’s reputation.
The Hostage Rescue Team is a highly trained unit that was formed after the massacre at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Many operators were once in the U.S. military and served in the Joint Special Operations Command.
Little is known about the operators involved in the Oregon standoff. An Oregon state trooper told investigators he wasn’t sure whether they used their real names. An investigator described them as “pretty mysterious.”
The FBI declined to comment Wednesday because of the ongoing investigation. Earlier this month, FBI Portland Special Agent in Charge Gregory T. Bretzing said, “The question of who fired these shots has not been resolved.”
The Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Justice is investigating the incident. The new information provides circumstantial evidence of possible misconduct, officials said, but is not conclusive.
It was not clear Wednesday whether the inspector general had interviewed the operators involved in the Oregon shooting. The agents continue to work, but they cannot be deployed in situations that might require them to use their weapons.
The American people generally accept that the FBI is a federal department that operates with integrity and honesty. The case of LaVoy Finicum raises real questions about the agency and its ability to operate as a national para-military organization without much oversight. Particularly in rural America people are starting to question why the federal government thousands of miles away in Washington D.C. needs to exercise so much control and to commandeer and restrict so much land in the West.
The death of LaVoy Finicum is being seen as a de facto execution designed to put the protesters in their place and to serve as an excuse to round up and incarcerate many of the ranchers. To date there are at least 20 ranchers who have been jailed and who are being held indefinitely under sweeping and spurious charges that could represent decades in jail. There is, perhaps, a very good reason that the government and the Democrat party is so anxious to implement severe gun control measures. It is a precursor to gun confiscation, because a weapon is the great equalizer when government oversteps its bounds and authority. That it may come to that is uncertain, but the murder of LaVoy Finicum shows that the federal government is deadly serious in its desire to unrest of the American people. And with the execution of Finicum the federal government very well could have just lit the fuse to greater and more widespread uprisings.