finicum family statement
March 9, 2016
Contact: Cherilyn Bacon Eagar
for the LaVoy Finicum family
March 8, 2016, St. George, UT. — LaVoy Finicum’s wife Jeanette Finicum released this statement at a news conference in St. George, Utah:
The news conference held earlier today in Bend, Oregon to release the report of the investigation regarding my husband’s death was to be expected. No surprises. The purpose of that announcement was for state and federal agencies to continue to lay the foundation of their legal case.
However, they also continue to bring forward selective evidence. As in all such situations there is another side to this story. We will provide a more thorough analysis at a follow up news conference tomorrow and will be taking questions at that time. Meanwhile, we continue to maintain my husband’s innocence.
According to the news story from Portland Oregon: “Officials investigating the death of Robert [LaVoy] Finicum are ready to release results” of the fatal shooting “during a Jan. 26 traffic stop while trying to arrest the rancher and others involved in the takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.”
As a family, along with our lawyers, we deny this statement. This was not a traffic stop. It was an ambush with a roadblock placed on a blind curve along a lonely stretch of highway. I am told that in law enforcement and prosecuting circles this is called a “Deadman’s blockade,” and is designed to allow a “kill stop” which is illegal.
The news story continues: “The FBI said Finicum was shot after reaching for a gun…”. We reject that statement. The FBI’s aerial video was of poor quality, edited and provided no audio. Our family asserts that he was shot with both hands up, he was not reaching for anything at the time of the first shot. He was walking with his hands in the air, a symbol of surrender. When he reached down to his left hip he was reacting to the pain of having been shot.
I can hardly believe that a team of qualified law officers could look at the facts in this case and say that no criminal laws were violated.
How could they have reached this decision in the face of evidence that clearly shows intent to kill my husband?
We have talked with an independent investigator who has stated that the “video proves a set up assassination.”
Many people, including my lawyers, have tried to prepare me for this—-“be strong”, “accept this with peace” —–but I don’t think anything could prepare me to accept what is so clearly a finding that challenges the Constitution that my husband died defending.
I know that under the Constitution the men who shot my husband to death, while he was surrendering, are entitled to due process of law—-but they are not entitled to walk free and not have to face the same legal process that is a barrier to you or to me.
They shot my husband, they left him lying in the snowbank—no medical assistance, no charges, no arraignment, no preliminary hearing, no indictment, and no trial by a jury, — and should they just walk free? It just is not right.
The consolation I have is that hundreds of thousands of Americans have seen and know the truth and believe as I do that my husband was murdered “intentionally, deliberately and with malice.”
My lawyer has assured me that we will seek justice in a different court, under different circumstances—and I look forward to the day when these men do face a jury that is unbiased enough to return a fair verdict.
After the Finicum funeral, rallies spontaneously began to organize in many states. The organizers counted, possibly as many as 300 rallies took place throughout the country, in every state but Rhode Island.
It has been asked how this movement got such momentum so quickly. When Americans heard the details of this story and how these American patriots who have no criminal record and who have stood on the same interpretation of the US Constitution as Justice Scalia have been treated, the actions of law enforcement and the FBI have “shock [ed] the conscience.” Our Supreme Court has set as the standard guideline for practices of law enforcement that are unacceptable to our society, as those that “shock the conscience”.
A Deadman’s blockade with the intent to kill “shocks the conscience.” Shooting to kill with both hand up “shocks the conscience.”
Violating the 8th Amendment – cruel and unusual punishment – by placing Americans with no criminal records, who are apparently guilty of defending the US Constitution and the overreach of federal authorities, into solitary confinement and then removing their constitutional right to bear arms are two examples of how elected and appointed officials in the court system, legislative bodies and in law enforcement are violating the Constitution they swear to uphold.
The Supreme Court has referred to solitary confinement as being “violently insane.” The court has recognized that solitary confinement tortures our human brain and diminishes our God given strength to overcome obstacles.
Solitary confinement is a form of torture that often drives prisoners mad.
Last year a Supreme Court Justice wrote a concurring opinion that described the history of solitary confinement and said the practice bears a “peculiar mark of infamy” in its ability to shatter the minds and spirits of prisoners.
Who are we? We are outraged that men and women who have no criminal records and who posed no threat during the protest in Oregon are being treated as mere animals.
The American people are outraged at this inhumanity, this brutality and barbarism by the courts and law enforcement. It has created a new American awakening from both the Left and the Right. It “shocks our conscience.” And that is why around 300 rallies spontaneously organized in support of my husband’s assassination and these patriots who are being held as political prisoners.
Again, my lawyer has assured me that we will seek justice in a different court, under different circumstances—
We will be commenting on the FBI’s and Deschutes County press release tomorrow after we review their findings fully.
February 2, 2016
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
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
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
• 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
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.
Finicum family statement2-2.pdf
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