An FBI hostage rescue team is being investigated by the Department of Justice for lying about, allegedly, or failing to disclose two shots fired at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during the fatal shootout that led to Finicum’s death.
According to a statement by FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing, the shots were fired “as Mr. Finicum was exiting the vehicle after hitting the snow bank.” This has been confirmed by a slow-motion video published by the Oregonian. Two shots can clearly be heard, one of which strikes the vehicle’s window.
The investigation conducted by the Tri-County Major Incident Team concluded that three separate series of shots were fired during the incident: the first as Finicum’s vehicle drove towards the barricade, the second upon the vehicle’s crashing into the ditch, and the third as Finicum reached for his handgun.
The investigation concluded that the first and third series of shots were justifiable. The second, as it involved members of the FBI, is being investigated by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General.
Bretzing said in his statement that “autopsy results confirm, neither of these shots struck Mr. Finicum” but “the question of who fired these shots has not been resolved.”
Deschutes County Sheriff L. Shane Nelson, whose team investigated Finicum’s death, said, “Of particular concern to all of us is that the FBI [hostage rescue team] operators did not disclose their shots to our investigators, nor did they disclose specific actions they took after the shooting.”
Oregon investigators were initially puzzled by a bullet hole found in the room of Finicum’s truck (as seen in the video). Upon further investigation, they determined the shots were fired by FBI agents. Oregon officials disclosed their findings to the U.S. attorney in Oregon, who notified Bretzing, who called the Department of Justice.
According to coverage in the LA Times, an agent from the inspector general’s office arrived in Bend, Oregon, approximately one month ago on Feb. 20. The Office of the Inspector General confirmed that the FBI’s hostage rescue team was under investigation, but declined to provide details.
Neither the FBI nor Oregon state officials are disclosing if the shots under investigation change the justifiability of the fatal rounds that killed Finicum. As the video clearly shows, two rounds were fired as Finicum stepped out of the vehicle but before he allegedly reached for his gun. If those shots had not been fired, Finicum may not have felt the need to unholster his firearm.
(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Jordan Michaels)