The widow of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum said police presented only “selective evidence” in the Arizona rancher’s shooting death, and that the family will seek justice in court.
Reading a prepared statement Tuesday in St. George, Utah, Jeanette Finicum said police set out to kill her husband in what she called an assassination.
“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,” she said. “How could they have reached this decision in the face of evidence that clearly shows intent to kill my husband?”
In a telephone interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive, Jeanette Finicum said she would respond in greater detail later in the week after she reviews the findings presented Tuesday by investigators.
But she said she doesn’t believe that her husband was armed. She said he was shot while surrendering, and that he exited the vehicle he had driven into a snowbank near police because he was trying to protect the truck’s other occupants.
“I don’t believe that my husband felt he was going to be killed,” she said. “I think he had more faith in the government than that, but clearly he was mistaken.”
Jeanette Finicum said she wanted investigators to release other footage and audio from the shooting scene, as well as a more thorough inspection of the truck her husband was driving.
Investigators said Tuesday that LaVoy Finicum’s shooting death by Oregon State Police officers was justified, though FBI agents are under investigation for an apparent cover-up. An agent failed to tell police about two shots fired during the incident, one of which hit the vehicle Finicum was driving.
The medical examiner’s autopsy showed LaVoy had three gunshot wounds. Officers said he appeared to be reaching for his left pocket when troopers opened fire. Afterward, investigators said they found a loaded Ruger SR9 semi-automatic pistol, which had been a gift from his stepson.
The Finicum family commissioned a private autopsy, but have not released the results.
Jeanette Finicum said her family would file a wrongful death lawsuit.
“I look forward to the day when these men do face a jury that is unbiased enough to return a fair verdict,” she said.
LaVoy Finicum’s family publicly disputed the FBI account of the Jan. 26 shooting early on, issuing a series of statements the week after alleging the shooting could have been avoided, that police “unleashed a barrage of gunfire” on the vehicle and that the FBI had engaged in a cover-up to mislead the public.
"An FBI agent is suspected of lying about firing twice at Robert "LaVoy" Finicum and may have gotten help from… https://t.co/Fq4IVHeYUN
— John W. Whitehead (@JohnW_Whitehead) March 11, 2016
In the Feb. 2 statement, the family said they believed Finicum had already been shot when he exited the vehicle. Though police said Finicum was reaching for a weapon, family members said they believed the motions were involuntary reactions to a shooting injury.
The family also said police failed to provide medical care to Finicum after he had been shot, and they were doubtful of the FBI’s claim that Finicum was armed.
The family relied on an account from Shawna Cox, an occupation leader, and Victoria Sharp, an 18-year-old Kansas singer who was visiting the refuge with her family. Both were riding in the truck Finicum drove.
Cox also shot video used in the police investigation and released by the FBI on Tuesday.
Investigators said only eight shots were fired, and that all three of the shots that hit Finicum were fired after Finicum was seen reaching toward his jacket, which investigators said contained the handgun.
— Elliot Njus