SUPPLEMENTAL STATEMENT FROM THE LAVOY FINICUM FAMILY 2-2-2016
The purpose of this statement is to supplement the statement we issued earlier. It does not contradict our previous statement, but only serves to supplement, support and add detail to our previous position.
At this point, based on the additional information we have now received, it is our position that not only was the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum completely unjustified, but that the FBI and Oregon State Police may also be engaging in a cover-up, and seeking to manipulate and mislead the media and the American public about what really happened.
We realize this may sound like a bold statement, but now that Shawna Cox, who was a passenger in LaVoy’s vehicle, and an eye witness, has been released from custody, we have now had the opportunity to hear yet another account, and the ability to start cross-referencing all currently available information to figure out what really happened. This has shed important additional light on the whole ordeal — especially when Cox is given the opportunity to essentially narrate what is happening in the video, from an eye witness standpoint.
It is our position that under the guise of claimed transparency, the FBI was very quick to release a very grainy, edited video, along with their interpretation of what they claimed it showed, without any audio overlay, in an effort to attempt to try to make the first impression on this issue, and seek to sway public opinion from the outset.
Based on Shawna Cox’s account, coupled with the account of Victoria Sharp, and comparison to the video released by the FBI, we now desire to make the following additional observations:
• Mark McConnell (if that is even his real name), had previously issued a statement that LaVoy had supposedly “charged” toward the officers. According to Shawna Cox, however, McConnell was not even present and had no personal knowledge whatsoever of what happened at the roadblock where LaVoy was killed. By way of background, McConnell had shown up at the refuge just two days earlier and ingratiated himself into their circle. He insisted on driving Ammon Bundy to the meeting. His vehicle was stopped at the outset, immediately surrounded by other vehicles and officers, and Ammon was arrested at that point, without incident. According to Shawna Cox, McConnell was never arrested and hasn’t been charged. Consequently, at this point it seems fairly obvious that McConnell was either an undercover agent who was helping to orchestrate the whole thing, or he was bribed somehow. But he never even saw what happened with LaVoy.
• Officers started shooting at LaVoy’s vehicle and the people in it right from the outset, even at the very first stop. Ryan Payne put his empty hands out of LaVoy’s truck window, and they shot at him. Ryan then yelled that there were women in the vehicle. The officers instructed them to allow the women to get out of the vehicle, but Victoria Sharp refused, and Shawna Cox would not leave her.
• LaVoy clearly stated (yelled) to the officers, repeatedly, that it was his intention to go on to Grant County to talk to the sheriff there. But a disagreement ensued between LaVoy and Ryan Payne as to what they should do, so Payne exited the vehicle, at which time LaVoy proceeded farther until he came to the roadblock.
• According to Shawna Cox, they were being fired upon right from the outset at the second stop, before LaVoy even exited the vehicle. Bullets had already come through the front windshield. According to Cox, there is no question that LaVoy was trying to draw the gunfire away from the others in the vehicle.
• According to Cox, because it was very obvious that LaVoy had his hands in the air and intended to keep them there, the best explanation for LaVoy’s arguably furtive hand movements, and why he lowered his hands and reached for his side at one point is because he had already been shot, and he was reaching toward the area where he had been hit as an involuntary physical reflex, despite his fairly obvious determination to try to keep his hands in the air, as evidenced by the fact that he once again attempted to raised his hands, before being shot again and collapsing.
• According to Shawna Cox, after LaVoy was lying motionless in the snow, the legion of federal agents and police unleashed a barrage of gunfire on LaVoy’s truck and its remaining occupants, then including Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox and Victoria Sharp, and shot it repeatedly. It was during this round of gunfire that Ryan Bundy was wounded. According to Cox, it was miraculous that no one else (which included Victoria Sharpe, a completely innocent bystander) was killed or seriously wounded during this attack. In addition to gunfire, they were also terrorized by repeated smoke and pepper bombs.
• There was never any attempt to provide any meaningful or timely medical attention to LaVoy. Victoria Sharp kept yelling that she was an EMT, and she wanted to treat him, but she was shot at instead.
• After re-reviewing the extended video with better technology, we want to reiterate that we are not accepting at face value the FBI’s statement that LaVoy was actually armed.
In summary and conclusion, after now having had the opportunity to view the full video with better technology, and to cross-reference it with two eye-witness accounts, what we believe the video shows is that LaVoy was being fired upon before he even got out of the truck. He exited very quickly and ran away from the vehicle to draw the gunfire away from the truck and its remaining occupants. He had his empty hands in the air.
He never wielded a weapon. He never posed any genuine threat to anyone. It is our position that he was cornered like a helpless animal, with nowhere else to turn, and executed in cold blood. We believe he had already been shot before he ever lowered his hands. We believe some of his hand movements were a natural physical reflex to being shot. He was shot multiple times in the back with his hands in the air. He was then completely ignored and disregarded for an extended period of time, and left to die with no attempt to provide any medical attention, while an entire of officers and agents (estimated to be at least 20 at that location), thoroughly terrorized the remaining occupants of the vehicle, including two women (Shawna Cox and Victoria Sharp), by shooting the truck full of holes.
Based on the FBI’s own preemptive efforts to manipulate public opinion under the guise of transparency, it is our position that if the FBI has nothing to hide and it wants to be fully transparent about what happened, it should immediately release the following:
• All applicable audio recordings and sound tracks, including an audio track of the event recorded on Shawna Cox’s phone, which has not been released.
• Full length, unedited video (by drones, body cameras, dash cameras, etc.)
• Complete, close-up images of LaVoy’s truck following the siege.
In the meantime, we will have no choice but to wait for the outcome of the independent investigation, and hope that nothing is done to tamper with the evidence.
STATEMENT FROM THE LAVOY FINICUM FAMILY
We know that there are always at least two sides to every story. We also know and recognize that the FBI and law enforcement agencies involved will do everything in their power to make it appear as if the needless death of our husband, father, grandfather, brother and son, LaVoy Finicum, was justified.
Like almost everyone else, we were not there, so we don’t know exactly what happened. Like most others, we have no choice but to rely on other sources of information. One of those sources of information is the account of Victoria Sharp. Another piece of information is the video recently released by the FBI, along with the FBI’s chosen narrative of what happened. In response to this information, we would like to make a few observations.
The first observation is that from what we understand, the occupation was on track toward a peaceful resolution. LaVoy and those he was with were en route to a public meeting in an adjoining county when they were stopped in something far different than a “routine traffic stop,” as has been portrayed by the media. Unfortunately, the powers that be were not interested in being patient enough for the occupation to come to a peaceful end. Some had called for LaVoy and those he was with to simply be gunned down, just as he was, with no due process. Oregon Governor, Kate Brown, was putting pressure on the FBI to end it sooner rather than later. The Harney County Sheriff’s Department working in conjunction with the FBI tried to do everything they could to emphasize how disruptive the occupation was to the local community, when in reality it appears to have been their own reaction that was causing most of the disruption. And it was the FBI that chose to escalate the situation to force a confrontation, and violent ending.
With respect to the actual facts and circumstances surrounding LaVoy’s death, the video really speaks for itself. People will interpret it according to their own views. As the FBI’s own narrative stated, LaVoy was not wielding a firearm or any other weapon when he was killed. His hands were obviously in the air. Knowing LaVoy, it is our view that he was moving away from the vehicle in an attempt to draw any hostility or violence away from the others. Unfortunately, we don’t know what he was saying, and what was being said to him. He appears to have been gesturing, or trying to keep his balance while moving in the deep snow. Although he may have been animated, he does not appear to have been threatening or posing any real threat or danger to anyone. The FBI claims that LaVoy had a loaded firearm in an inside pocket of his coat.
After rereviewing the extended video, at this point we are not accepting at face value the FBI’s statement that LaVoy was actually armed. But even if he was, as far as we can see, that firearm posed no more danger to anyone than it would have if he had stayed in the vehicle with his hands on the steering wheel. Contrary to what has been stated by some sources, LaVoy was not “charging” anyone. He appears to have been shot in the back, with his hands in the air.
It is our understanding that according to applicable law, the use of deadly force is justified only if there is a genuine threat of death or serious bodily injury. It is our understanding and position that deadly force should only be used as a last resort. In LaVoy’s case it appears that they were determined to go straight to the last resort. It is our understanding that the U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of appeals have ruled as follows:
“The reasonableness of [officers’] actions depends both on whether the officers
were in danger at the precise moment that they used force and on whether [the
officers’] own reckless or deliberate conduct during the seizure unreasonably
created the need to use such force.”
“[W]here an officer intentionally or recklessly provokes a violent confrontation . . .
he may be held liable for his otherwise defensive use of deadly force.” Although
officers may claim self-defense, they may still be liable for using excessive force
if their reckless and unconstitutional actions create the need to use excessive
It is our understanding that in addition to shooting LaVoy multiple times, after he was left lying harmlessly on the ground the officers also fired upon his truck and the passengers in it, putting them all at risk, despite the fact that they were posing no threat to anyone. The video clearly shows one of the windows being blown out. It has been gut-wrenching for our family to view the video of LaVoy being shot, and then left to lie in the snow while a whole army of so-called “public servants” terrorized the others. We can only hope their families never have to watch such a thing. We will be interested to inspect the vehicle. We will also be interested to see the autopsy report.
At this point we will await the outcome of any investigation, but based on the information currently available to us, we do not believe that LaVoy’s shooting death was justified. We likewise can’t see any justification for the force and risk of serious injury or death that was exerted against the others in the truck, who posed no threat.
We know that under such circumstances law enforcement typically makes every attempt to cast such shooting victims in the worst possible light. In that regard, we also want to observe and emphasize that LaVoy had a squeaky clean record, and had never had so much as a speeding ticket. In addition to raising his own eleven children, he had also been entrusted with the care of at least 50 foster children over the course of approximately 10 years.
On January 7, 2016, LaVoy issued an official statement from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Among other things, the statement said:
“We want to clarify that we share any and all concerns about safety for everyone
involved, including ourselves, our families, the public, and law enforcement
officers. All lives are important to us. Ultimately, we want everyone involved
to be able to return safely to their homes and families.
We are deeply troubled and saddened that our governments do not share the same concern for human life. We are deeply troubled that our governments would view whatever was happening at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge to be worth spilling blood over. We are deeply troubled and saddened that our governments have come to place so little value on life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness.
We love LaVoy as our husband, father, grandfather, brother and son. He was a hero to us. We believe he died as a patriotic martyr. Regardless of any and all differing opinions, we know that he died standing for a cause HE believed in.
LaVoy’s funeral will be held in Kanab, Utah on Friday, February 5, 2016.
We take comfort in our faith and our belief that LaVoy is now in a better place. May our dear Lord bless and receive him into that realm. We sincerely appreciate all the thoughts and prayers that have been sent our way. We pray for those who chose to take LaVoy’s life. We desire justice and genuine accountability for what happened, but we pray for them.
And finally, we thank God for this country and what it is supposed to stand for. We pray for this country, and that God will please bless, help and forgive us all.