The Department of Justice is investigating five FBI agents involved in the fatal shooting of Oregon militia spokesman Lavoy Finicum for allegedly covering up the details of Finicum’s January death.
One of the FBI agents allegedly lied about firing twice on Finicum, who was shot to death in the course of an attempted arrest related to the militia’s occupation of federal land. Four other agents allegedly helped that agent cover up the lie, reported the Oregonian.
Authorities revealed the investigation Tuesday, as a team of local investigators released new details about the shooting. A member of the Hostage Rescue Team allegedly failed to report the two shots in question, officials said, although neither bullet actually hit Finicum.
Investigators did not specify exactly why the other four unnamed agents are under investigation, except to say it’s related to alleged misconduct after the shooting. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is heading up the investigation.
“The question of who fired these shots has not been resolved,” Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Portland, said at a news conference, according to the Oregonian.
The newly released details from the local investigators revealed two state policemen shot Finicum three times in the back, piercing him once in the heart. Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris cleared the Oregon State Police of wrongdoing in a prepared statement, saying the six shots they fired (three into the truck and three that struck Finicum) were “justified” and “necessary.”
But news of the federal investigation into the FBI agents is sure to inflame some suspicions regarding the authorities’ conduct during the attempted arrest and fatal shooting.
The FBI released footage of the shooting in the wake of Finicum’s death to calm rumors he was shot while cooperating with police. In an extended video filmed from an airplane, vehicles carrying members of the group are seen being pulled over by police.
Lavoy Finicum was driving one of the vehicles, and drove away from police after they pulled him to a stop. He drives for a bit, but then veers off the road into the snow when he suddenly comes upon a police blockade.
Finicum is seen getting out of the truck and walking through the snow with his hands up in surrender. However, he then makes a move to reach into his jacket, where the FBI said he was carrying a gun. At that point, one of the authorities walks up out of the woods and shoots Finicum dead from behind.
The militiamen Finicum had been leading have since surrendered to authorities, after occupying federal land in protest of the Bureau of Land Management’s aggressive dealings with two ranchers.
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