Police shot and killed the spokesman of an Oregon militia occupying federal land Tuesday, allegedly while the man had his hands up and was cooperating with police in the course of a traffic stop, but accounts of the confrontation differ.
According to Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, the group’s leader Ammon Bundy told his wife Tuesday night Lavoy Finicum was shot and killed while he had his hands up in cooperation with the police. Authorities told CNN they had no comment on Fiore’s account.
My heart & prays go out to LaVoy Finicum's family he was just murdered with his hands up in Burns OR.Ryan Bundy has been shot in the arm
— Michele Fiore (@VoteFiore) January 27, 2016
Police pulled over Bundy and several other militiamen on their way to a community meeting set up by residents, executing warrants for the arrest of the occupiers in the vehicles. An unnamed law enforcement official told CNN everyone surrendered to police, except Finicum and Bundy’s brother Ryan Bundy.
Ammon Bundy’s personal bodyguard, Mark McConnell, and Melvin Lee, who said he was traveling with the group when they got pulled over, both recorded their own account of what happened, contradicting the hands up account. McConnell said his jeep was pulled over first and everyone taken into custody, including Ammon, but Finicum was in a second truck that was pulled over about 200 yards ahead.
McConnell saw one person get out of the truck and get arrested, but said the truck then drove off. Based on accounts he says he heard from people in that truck, Finicum drove into a snowbank in an attempt to get around a blockade, and then got out and charged police.
Lee released a video backing up McConnell’s story, who was released from custody because he was not a part of the official takeover of the wildlife refuge. “This is just a way to slow you all down, calm you down and think,” he said. “Wait for the information to come out people.”
In addition to killing Finicum, police shot Ryan Bundy in the arm. Bundy and four others were arrested on a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.
Finicum was nicknamed “Tarp Man” after an MSNBC reporter at the scene of the occupation walked over and lifted a tarp to find Finicum seated in a rocking chair with a gun across his lap.
“I have been raised in the country all my life,” Finicum told the reporter when questioned about the possibility of his arrest. “I love dearly to feel the wind on my face, to see the sunrise, to see the moon in the night. I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box.”
“Don’t point a gun at me,” he added, when pressed about what he would do. “You don’t point a gun at somebody unless you’re going to shoot them. … I’ll telling them right now, don’t point guns at me.”
Finicum had 11 children. “My dad was such a good good man, through and through,” his daughter Arianna Finicum Brown, 26, told The Oregonian. “He would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved.”
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