So as the standoff in Oregon between local and federal authorities draws to a close against a ragtag band of militants holding the Malheur Wildlife Refuge; the January 26th traffic stop (pseudo hard-stop ambush) capturing the militants leadership sadly resulted in the death of leader LaVoy Finicum, and wounding of overall occupation ringleader Ammon Bundy (son of rancher Cliven Bundy from Nevada), while arresting eight others in the group while they were enroute to a meeting with local authorities. Immedatly there were cries by sympathizers decrying government overreaction and use of force, while militants there insisted Finicum was gunned down while holding his arms up in surrender (a position later revised that Finicum was shot while charging police). These speculations only further fueled sympathetic outrage while groups like Oathkeepers issued orders to its members to “be ready” but not mobilize so that cooler heads could prevail and facts be know. In an effort at transparency the FBI released surveillance coverage of the traffic stop that casts doubts on the actions of Finicum in his final moments. Finical himself was stated in an NBC interview that he would rather be dead than go to prison, and it would appear in the final moments that’s exactly what he chose. The following is a “storyboard” to detail the events as they transpired as observed by the surveillance overhead (be it from either rotary or fixed wing is uncertain).
In the end, Finicum neither went peacefully nor charged police lines. There is a lot of questions to be asked for local law enforcement for choosing such a poor location and method for stopping the militants, and likely a following investigation will shed further light into the fact that often these peacekeeping units are poorly trained and prepared. Either way they are placed in difficult positions that require split-second decisions and in this instance Finicum made the choice to resist and law enforcement made the effort to stop the threat. Sadly it cost a family man his life. As of this writing there remain four hold-outs (one leader and three “followers”) at the reservation who refuse to go for fear of arrest. Since the 26th, Ammon Bundy called on militants to go home and that things were now “in the courts”. Most followed, their dreams of government resistance dashed without their fabled leaders, some leaving behind weapons in their haste. Time will tell if the remaining hold-outs follow Finicum in refusing arrest, or they ultimately realize the situation as undeniable and go home.
KATU News. 26 January 2016. “1 dead, 8 arrested after leaders of armed group occupying refuge clash with FBI”. Last accessed 29 January 2016 at; http://katu.com/news/local/leader-of-oregon-occupation-ammon-bundy-three-others-arrested.
Federal Beau of Investigation. 28 January 2016. Complete, Unedited Video of Joint FBI and OSP Operation 01/26/2016. Posted on YouTube and last accessed 28 January 2016; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAGxDWKrjPQ.
Tatenhove, Jason Van. 28 January 2016. “Video of LaVoy Tinicum’s death released”. Posted on Oathkeepers.com and last accessed 28 January 2016; https://www.oathkeepers.org/video-of-lavoy-tinicums-death-released/.