Police Investigation into Shooting Death of Lavoy Finicum Concludes that the Use of Deadly Force was Justifiedon Friday, March 11, 2016
Internal Report Whitewashes over Police Use of Deadly Force
The Federal Occupation of Twelve States Continues
By Scott Michael Rohter
Originally Published March 2016 – Updated January 2018
Many Americans were outraged at the sight of an innocent man being shot in the back by police while his hands up in the air. Some of us listened to the eyewitness account of Victoria Sharp and Shawna Cox who were passengers in Lavoy Finicum’s truck at the time he was murdered by the police. An internal police investigation into the use of deadly force against Mr. Finicum concluded that the use of deadly force by officers of the law was justified. Authorities also released additional audio from the cell phone of Shawna Cox as Lavoy Finicum’s truck sped toward a police roadblock. They also released aerial surveillance photography from overhead drones in order to piece together a complete picture of the events as they occurred. The police investigation into the shooting death of Lavoy Finicum concluded that the use of deadly force against Lavoy Finicum was justified. I disagree. The police news conference can be viewed here.
Since when is it okay to shoot an innocent man in the back? It’s even worse when the victim has his hands up in the air and the police are the ones doing the shooting. We are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. When did a police officer’s badge become a license to commit murder? It wasn’t too long ago that a person who shot someone else in the back was lucky if he even got a trial. They were usually taken out back and hung from the nearest tree…. but today police officers are exonerated after shooting someone in the back. Police investigators call it a justifiable use of deadly force. Let me tell you something… There is never any reason to shoot someone in the back, and even less when his hands are up in the air and he poses no threat to anyone. I don’t care what he is accused of doing… How can any rational human being ever justify such a thing?
Lavoy Finicum was not a murderer. He didn’t commit a violent crime. He had no history of violence. In fact he didn’t even have a police record. He didn’t have so much as a speeding ticket. He was engaged in an act of civil disobedience against the Federal government and police officers just shot him in the back while his hands were clearly up in the air, and now they are trying to whitewash over what they have done.
Lavoy Finicum was a family man. He was a husband. He was a father, and he was a grandfather. He left behind twenty-five grandchildren… That’s right, twenty-five! He was a leader in his church. He was well respected in his community. Lavoy Finicum was killed by Oregon State Police officers while he was participating in an act of civil disobedience against a lawless Federal government which does not even pretend to follow the United States Constitution anymore. He was protesting the Federal government’s unconstitutional occupation of more than one-half of the land in twelve Western States. While he was doing this…. while he was exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right to petition the government for a redress of grievances… while he was exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech, and his constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of assembly Mr. Finicum was brutally gunned down in cold blood by police officers and he was just left to die where they shot him on the side of the road. It took police officers more than ten minutes to even check on him after they shot him, and by that time he was probably already dead. If he wasn’t then what law enforcement officials did next made sure that he was. They just left his body there on the side of the road where they shot him until the next morning when he was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.
Let me ask you a question. What is worse… occupying a Federal Wildlife Refuge for less than a month in order to draw attention to a serious violation of the United States Constitution, or occupying 700 million acres of land in twelve Western States for more than 150 years?… That was what Mr. Finicum was doing. He was protesting the illegal occupation of Stand land by the federal government. That is what the United States Government is guilty of doing. Since 1850 when California became the first Western State to enter the Union the federal government thru various Enabling Acts of Congress has seized almost half of the land west of the Rocky Mountains. Lavoy Finicum was only guilty of drawing attention to that fact and seeking an equitable resolution. At the very worst he was only guilty of trespassing on so called Federal property, but as he frequently said it really isn’t Federal property. It is State land.
If Mr. Finicum carried a gun at the time he was shot he had a legal right to carry that weapon. If it was in his pocket that is precisely where it was supposed to be because Oregon is a concealed carry state. It had to be concealed. There was nothing illegal about it. The important point is that he never had a gun in his hands. I watched the police videos. I listened to the audio and I heard the eye witness testimony. I considered the conclusion of the police investigation into his death, and I reviewed the evidence, and I have arrived at a different conclusion than the internal police report. It is my informed opinion that the police investigation into the use of deadly force against Lavoy Finicum is a total whitewash of the facts. It was not an investigation at all.. It was a police cover-up.
According to the report there were a total of nine shots fired by law enforcement on that day. One shot was fired at the vehicle at the initial traffic stop… That was when Ryan Payne got out of the truck and surrendered to authorities. That left three people still in the vehicle with Lavoy Finicum… In the backseat were Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox and a young girl named Victoria Sharp. She was not one of the protestors who were occupying the Refuge. She was just accompanying the others to an event where they were scheduled to speak to a group of local ranchers. Miss Sharp was supposed to sing and provide music.
After Mr. Finicum decided to ignore police commands and drove away from the traffic stop eight more shots were fired by law enforcement personnel, but not a single shot was ever fired back at police by anyone in the vehicle. As the truck approached a police roadblock a mile or so down the road two Oregon State Police officers fired three more shots into the vehicle. None of those shots were justified because no one in the vehicle was firing at them. In fact no one in the vehicle even had their hands on a weapon. The police report found that officers were justified in shooting at the vehicle because they feared for their lives. The report states that the speeding vehicle represented a deadly threat. That is nonsense. The report does not mention the fact that there was an underage adolescent sitting in the backseat of the vehicle who had nothing at all to do with the protest at the Refuge. It fails to mention that their random gunfire into the vehicle could have killed or injured her. The report fails to mention that if police officers manning the roadblock had merely gotten out of the way of the oncoming vehicle then they would not have perceived the vehicle as any threat. The report goes on to state that one of the shots fired at the vehicle hit the passenger side mirror. Another shot hit the engine. They don’t say where a third bullet hit. Maybe they should ask Ryan Bundy who was in the back seat. He still has a bullet lodged in his shoulder. The internal police investigation concluded that the use of deadly force by police officers was justified, but as I have noted, deadly force was not justified because no one in the vehicle was shooting at them.
Then FBI agents positioned along the road fired two more shots at the vehicle. According to the report they did not hit anything. However one FBI agent did not report that he had fired his weapon and so a separate investigation into that officer was conducted. The result of this investigation was that the officer was convicted of lying under oath. That leaves just three more shots to explain. Those were the shots that were fired into the back of Lavoy Finicum.
When the vehicle hit the snow bank and came to a stop Mr. Finicum immediately exited the vehicle shouting “shoot me, shoot me.” He was trying to draw police gunfire away from the passengers in the vehicle. It was an act of selfless heroism. He held his hands up in the air as he stumbled around in snow up to his knees. The report states that police officers told him to get down on the ground. I couldn’t hear that on the video, and with all that was probably going on in Lavoy’s mind at the time I doubt that he could have heard it either, however there is no mistaking that his hands were clearly up in the air in a sign of surrender which could not have been mistaken by the police as a threat, especially the two officers who shot him from behind. After being hit once by what was either a bullet or a tazer Mr. Finicum’s lowered his arms slightly. As they went down his entire body bent over at the waist. Most people didn’t notice this, but you don’t bend over at the waist to reach for a gun in your pocket. Mr. Finicum was not reaching for a gun. He was reacting to being hit by one.
The FBI and the Oregon State Police could have let him wander off in the snow. There was no where really for him to go.. and he couldn’t have gotten very far even if he wanted to. The snow was up to his knees. They could have waited him out and talked him into surrendering, but they didn’t exhibit any inclination to do that. Instead they chose to fire their weapons at a man that posed no threat to them. Lavoy was shot three times in the back and left to bleed to death in the snow. Law enforcement officials were wearing bullet proof vests. Even if they had allowed Mr Finnicum to reach for a gun which they claimed was in his pocket … the chances that he could have been able to hurt any of them on the first shot as he was stumbling around in knee deep snow was almost impossible.
In conclusion Lavoy Finicum was shot from behind by two people he didn’t even see. There was no way that either of the Oregon State Police Officers who shot Lavoy Finicum could have felt threatened by him. They claimed he was reaching for a gun, but there is no way they could have known what he was actually doing with his hands… whether he was really reaching for a gun or just reacting to being struck by one or perhaps reacting to being hit by a tazer. The only thing those two police officers could see was his back. One bullet entered Mr. Finicum’s right shoulder blade at the back and another near lower down near the back of the waist.. Neither of those wounds would have normally been fatal, but officers did not provide medical assistance to save his life. They allowed him to continue to bleed until his body went into shock and cardiac arrest. Instead of providing medical assistance they began an assault on the other passengers in his vehicle. They fired flash bangs and tear gas into the truck in order to get them to surrender. After it was all over the police returned to Mr. Finicum who was probably dead by them. His body was left there over night and taken to a local hospital the next morning where he was pronounced dead.
Lavoy Finicum was not a murderer. He was not a violent man. It wasn’t necessary to use deadly force in order to apprehend him. He was twice the victim of government wrongdoing… first by Federal government overreach and second by FBI and State law enforcement over reaction. Mr. Finicum was engaged in an act of civil disobedience. He was exercising his constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and his constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If he was mad at the government then he had a right to be mad. I am mad. Just because he dared police officers to shoot him doesn’t give any police officer the right to do it. Police officers are supposed to be professionals and you don’t shoot someone just because he asks to be shot.
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