Burns Chronicles No 16 – Ambush – Part 3 – As Told and Retold by Government Witnesses

Burns Chronicles No 16
Ambush – Part 3
As Told and Retold by Government Witnesses

 

Adam12-SwatGary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
March 27, 2016

On February 18, 2016, the Tri-County Major Incident Team released a report prepared, primarily, by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.  The publically available version consists of 360 pages, though the page numbering indicates that the entire report consists of at least 714 pages.  The officers involved are identified by assigned numbers, to protect their identity.  There are heavy redactions of experience of officers and substantial portions of their interviews.  References shown thus, {nn}, indicate PDF page numbers from the above linked document.

This article will point out discrepancies, disparities, and other portions that raise a question as to the objectivity of the published version of the report.  The document explains that when they do the interviews, they can use the names of the other officers or personnel, though those names will be replaced by numbers in the documentation.  So, when they speak of “Office #1”, we have no idea who he is, but the numbers remain constant for the various players, throughout.  There will be a distinction between “Officer #4” “DCSO 4”, the latter being on the investigation team, the former being an officer involved from Oregon State Police (OSP).  Italics will be used for direct quotes from the report.

The Cast – All Oregon State Police Officers and present at shooting scene:

Officer #1      Fired two rapid fire rounds into LaVoy’s back, first shooter; also fired three rounds at truck as it approached the roadblock

Officer #2      Fired one round into LaVoy’s back, was second shooter

Officer #3      Officer with taser, approaches LaVoy from tree line

Officer #4      Drove Gray truck

Officer #5      Non-lethal (40mm) single round

Officer #6      Driver of Root Beer Truck (Lead Vehicle)

Officer #7      Non-lethal (40mm) multi-launcher – 6 rounds

Officer #8      Second OSP in Root Beer Truck

Note: Interviews will be presented in the order that they appear in the Report.

Note that all vehicles, OSP and FBI, were unmarked. Dress was “civies” in Burns, change to tactical gear on deployment to US 395. Deployment was staggered to avoid scrutiny by militia. Radio communication was different between FBI and OSP, requiring mixed partnering in vehicles to share communications. There was apprehension that the militia in Burns would respond, if open communication were used.

Officer #2

The first report {3} is from DCSO #4, who visited the scene on January 27 (day after the shooting) at 0330 hours.  He found only one (1) .233 cartridge.  Later, on the 29th, he observed OSP Crime Lab personnel remove a shard of metal from the driver’s side mirror.  That is all he had to say.

Next, we have “DCSO 20” with a Narrative {6-8} of his investigation of Officer #2, one of the OSP shooters.  From the Narrative, we find that the FBI was in charge of the operation, with command being FBI HRT (Hostage Rescue Team).  That OSP was assigned to assist the FBI in the operation.  With regard to Officer #2, “A request for blood and urine from Officer #2 was made upon completion of the collection of property and we were informed that Officer #2 had been advised by counsel/representation not to provide a blood/urine sample.”

So, we have an officer that had shot LaVoy Finicum.  When asked to provide blood/urine samples, he refused based upon the advice of his “counsel”.  Now, that refusal could keep you from getting a job, get you fired from a job, lose your driver’s license, and be cause for denial of certain government services.  However, when you work for the agency that protects judges, you can expect the judges to protect those who protect them.  That is pretty darned serious, and there would be no reason to refuse, if there were no reason to refuse.

Next, we have two DCSO officers interviewing Officer #2, in a transcribed interview {9-53}, on January 31.  In all interviews, training, length of service, qualifications, and other information that might help to identify an officer, have been redacted.  The following is from that interview:

It is clear that they had background on the “occupiers” {14}.  The three primary vehicles (not counting the roadblock where the shooting occurred) were described.  “There was the root beer colored pickup truck, which is a large Dodge pickup truck, there was my gray truck, which is the same model and design as the root beer truck, and a [green] van.  Those three vehicles constituted the initial arrest team for the traffic stop.”

In describing Ryan Payne’s exit from LaVoy’s truck, we have the following {20}:

So eventually there is conversations between those HRT members and Payne, and he acts like — Payne acts like — he’s kind half out the truck.  He acts like he’s going to go back in.  He starts to kind of go back in, and OFFICER  NO. 5 fires a 40 millimeter less lethal sponge tip round which hits him in the arm, and then gives him more commands, starts to give commands: “You need to come out now.  Put your hands up,” you know, et cetera, which he did.

Officer #2 then talks about what happened after LaVoy had told them that he was going to see the Sheriff {23}.

So we, in pursuit of that vehicle, followed it until it started getting close to the roadblock and we backed off slightly, anticipating there might be an issue there.

As we came around the corner and saw the roadblock, I observed the white truck swerve to the left.  It didn’t appear to be slowing down at all.  I had time slow down and stop, and, in fact, the white truck appeared to accelerate rapidly away from us, and then maintain that speed throughout until it got to the roadblock.

Then, he explains his arrival at the shooting scene.  He pulls up a ways back from LaVoy’s truck.  He sees Officer #1 over by the roadblock trucks.  Officer #3 (the “non-lethal” officer) to the left and about 10 or 15 feet away from LaVoy {24-25}.

As I stepped up and was moving, I saw Mr. Finicum turn his back towards me and OFFICER  NO. 1, and then I saw his right arm again dig deeply in towards what I would term as maybe a shoulder holster or something As I stepped up and was moving, I saw Mr. Finicum turn his back towards me and OFFICER  NO. 1, and then I saw his right arm again dig deeply in towards what I would term as maybe a shoulder holster or something in that vicinity, and he seemed to struggle for just a second.

* * *

And just as soon as I pulled my rifle up and put the cross hair on Mr. Finicum, OFFICER  NO. 1 fired, and I distinctly heard him fire, and I knew it was him firing, for whatever, reason.

And as soon as he fired and my scope just came up and was right in the middle of the back of Mr. Finicum, and I squeezed off a single round.

So, this guy shoots LaVoy in the back, because Officer #1 shot LaVoy.  But, maybe the story isn’t clear enough, so they take a break {30}.  Now, let’s see what subtly changes in the story {31-32}, so that it is no longer, because Officer #1 shot, rather, he was going to shoot, anyway.  Can’t leave your buddy out to dry, alone.

I’d like to go back to the point where I’m getting out of my truck.  After Mr. Finicum exited the vehicle, and I had seen him stick his hand in his coat once as he was coming out of the vehicle, and as I was exiting my vehicle and moving to a position to cover Mr. Finicum and could see OFFICER  NO. 3, you know, 10, 15 feet to his left, and then OFFICER  NO. 1 to my right, I recognized that OFFICER  NO. 3 was in a very dangerous position, and he was exposed to the white truck as well as Mr. Finicum, and as I pulled my rifle up to cover Mr. Finicum, while this is going on, I’m seeing him turn and stick his hand into his coat again, as I previously stated to what I believed, to grab a pistol, and at that point I believe that if I didn’t engage Mr. Finicum, that OFFICER  NO. 3 was in a very close proximity and probably would have been shot, and that’s what was going through my mind, is that OFFICER  NO. 3 was in a very bad spot.

And I didn’t want to wait – all these things cross your mind.  I didn’t want to wait for him to bring out a firearm, because I knew that by the time that I was able to recognize that and deal with it, that he could have very likely have shot OFFICER  NO. 3.

So as I was bringing my rifle up, I had a scope on the rifle, which is a one by six power, and I had it on one power, so I had a wide field of view, and as I brought the scope up and put the cross hairs on Mr. Finicum’s back, while I’m seeing him struggle with something in his coat, I had made a decision at that point that I’m going to fire my rifle, and had gone through the process of taking it off safe and started — and had my finger going to the trigger and was starting to squeeze it when OFFICER NO. 1 had fired, and so I was already in the process of firing my rifle at that point, and was just a second behind OFFICER NO. 1 on that, or whatever it was.  I don’t know.

Later, he, again, clarifies why he shot {33}, when he says, “But I had made that determination and was in — going — had my finger on the trigger and was starting to squeeze the trigger when he [Officer #1] fired.”

Officer #1

So, let’s move on to Officer #1.  Again, we have a transcribed interview {65-112}, conducted on January 31.  Officer #1 was already at the roadblock.  As they receive word, via radio, that LaVoy’s truck had “run’, they begin preparing for its arrival {85}.

I remember to the right OFFICER NO 3 falling in the snow, and I could see clearly OFFICER  NO. 3 is making an aggressive move to try to get off of the roadway through the snow, and what I presumed would be to a safe area where there was some trees.

So, even though there is no immediate danger, we have Officer #3 “falling in the snow.”

As the truck approaches, we get Officer #1‘s description of the event:

As it rounded the corner, and I believe that there was no other option, it was going to run into the roadblock.  I fired multiple rounds from an AR-15 rifle that is assigned to me, and I was aiming towards the — what would be the driver area, and at the motor.

* * *

So I’m now on the left, and I watched the truck plow through that snow and push snow like you would push water if you ran a car into a lake, and I saw an officer in front of the truck, and I believed that the officer was ran over by the truck, and I felt that he was likely under that truck.

As the truck comes to a stop, I immediately move — I would say move quickly towards the truck, covering the truck, anticipating based off of those actions, such an aggressive action, I anticipated likely being shot at through those windows of that vehicle, and that’s based off of all the intelligence reports and the fact that they are armed and now they are committed to the point of running over an officer.

He has fired three shots, one hitting the left side of the truck, one into the engine compartment, and one into the right front of the hood.  Those in the truck have been fired on, for the second time — and, they haven’t even drawn a weapon.  Darn I wonder how that feels.  But, I would much rather wonder than find out, as it begins to appear that the OSP has blood on its mind — or, they honestly believe that a 0.223 can stop a truck, or, if they killed the driver, the truck would stop, instead of careening wildly around, possibly killing agents and those who remained alive inside of the truck..

He also believes that LaVoy had run over a fellow officer.  On the contrary, by the aerial footage, LaVoy swerved to the left to avoid hitting the officer, possibly saving the life of a fellow officer of the two that killed LaVoy.

Then, we have Officer #1‘s account of LaVoy exiting the truck {88}:

I see the driver exiting the truck, and I am now perceiving that as the greatest threat at that point.

* * *

I’m out in the open.  The footing isn’t great.  I’m walking on, you know, loose snow, but immediately as I’m in view of the driver, I am focused solely on the driver, and I’m covering him with my rifle.

Now, Officer #1 provides and excuse, or incentive, by referring to the comments made by LaVoy {89}, however, those comments have no indication of a threat, nor is there any indication that LaVoy intended to draw a weapon.

I remember the driver saying, “Just shoot me.  You are going to have to shoot me.”  There could have been other words intermixed there, but that’s what I recall.  He’s yelling in an angry-get-my-point-across loud voice, “Just shoot me.”  You are going to have to shoot me,” and he’s yelling at us.

Officer #1 continues:

He had been reaching.  He spins — reaching, I mean kind of reaching in his waist band/shirt area.  He spins, and this is all happening pretty fast.  He kind of spins away from me.  I remember viewing his back as I’m covering him.  I remember a distinct kind of a sweeping motion with one arm, and the other arm diving into what believe, based off of prior videos and intelligence, would be what.  I would call a shoulder rig, shoulder harnesses, and it was consistent with grabbing a firearm, which I knew could be drawn and fired with, you know, extremely fast, and the person that was exposed was OFFICER NO. 3, as he had turned slightly away from me and he was more facing OFFICER NO. 3, and had he drawn, OFFICER NO. 3 was in his path.

And I think at that point his attention was away from me as he now kind of was moving, what I perceived as back away from me, and his attention was back directed towards OFFICER  NO. 3.

I could see OFFICER  NO. 3 advancing, and I just knew that based off of what I was seeing, and the totality of all of the circumstances there, that I needed to take action to stop him from being a threat to OFFICER  NO. 3, and at that point I fired two rounds, what I thought was striking him in the center of his back, and the driver falls to his knees.

So, now, even though Officer #3, as we see in the aerial footage, doesn’t seem concerned, and continues to approach LaVoy, with taser poised to inflict the “non-lethal”.  Officer #1 is, clearly, setting the stage for his subsequent actions.  So, he stops LaVoy from being a “threat, by shooting him in the back, twice.

Now, based upon Officer #2‘s initial statement, he fired because Officer #1 fired.  So, we have Officer #3, who seemed to be nothing more than cautious.  We have Officer #2, extremely agitated, creating apprehension that is not shown by Officer #3.  And, we have Officer #1, who fires because Officer #2 has fired at the back of LaVoy Finicum.  Or, as my father used to say, “If you want an excuse, any excuse is good enough.”  And, if we can throw in a fear for the life of another trained officer, that doesn’t seem in fear of his life, well, we real have a justification, without justification — but that is always good enough for the police state employees.

So, we still have three people in LaVoy’s truck.  They were shot at during the first stop.  They were shot at as the approached the roadblock.  They were shot at the same time that LaVoy was being murdered.  And, now, Officer #1 tells us {91}:

So I, from there I transitioned background to the main element of officers that were behind the two vehicles in a wedge, and there was-discussion amongst officers that there is still clearly movement in the vehicle.  There is still occupants in the vehicle.

They are being now, diversions had started going off over the vehicle, multiple diversions to try to distract the people that were in the vehicle, and try to get them to comply with the verbal commands that I was hearing being yelled.

The “diversions” were “nine bangers”, explained later.  Unknown to the occupants, who have just seen their friend murdered, they were not firing lethal rounds.  The passengers, however, as is apparent in the Shawna Cox footage, are in fear for their lives — way so more than any of the battle-geared officers.  They are staying as low as they can possibly get, hoping to survive.  But, the officers outside seem to think that any normal person would respond to the verbal commands, while listen ting to the fusillade being directed at them, windows breaking, and CS gas being sent into the front seat area.  Who could possibly “comply”, under those circumstances?  But, here we have a demonstration of the arrogance of law enforcement, the disdain for the “them” in the “them or us” mentality, and the expectation of absolute and immediate obedience to their commands.

In their efforts to force compliance, Officer #1 tells us {92}:

There was discussion that more officers were coming down to that immediate scene, and that OFFICER  NO. 7 was going to be showing up any moment with a multi launcher, and I knew the multi-launcher would have orange tips, meaning that they would contain OCCS chemical agents in them, and that they were going to deploy those rounds into the truck, as minutes had lapsed and the occupants in the truck were not complying with the commands.  They were not exiting the truck within a reasonable amount of time whatsoever.  There was no reason they couldn’t have exited the truck and complied with the commands.

Gas was deployed into the truck.  There was still a period of time where they were not coming out There was discussion that we are not hearing coughing, and then it goes into the occupants ultimately exiting the truck and following commands.

Now, we need a break — perhaps we need to clarify some things {94}.  So, let’s revisit the shooting of the moving truck {101-102}.  But, let’s start with a leading question so that Officer #1 gets it right, this time.

Q.  And when you saw the white truck round the corner, I’m pretty sure you mentioned this, you saw it approaching your location. What was your perception of whether it was or was not yielding to the roadblock?

A.  It was clear to me, the speed the truck was traveling was I would say between 60 and 70 miles per hour, was traveling at a speed which I knew from my training and experience, it was — had no intention to stop. There was no visibility of the front end dropping like brakes were being applied. There was just no variation of speed, other than maintaining that high speed directly at us.

And when it became apparent to me based off my training and experience as a crash, you know, technician, and overall time as a police officer, I knew there was it had crossed the threshold of being able to stop prior to, and there was no indication that the driver was going to make any evasive maneuver or try to avoid hitting any of us, and with the locations of the officers, once I was put in the spot of trying to defend the officers and prevent that truck from running through that roadblock, that’s when I felt that the use of force was my only option to try to prevent them from running into us.

Now, let’s make sure that we can justify shooting someone because he had hit the FBI agent that had jumped in front of him {103}.  If he killed, or even injured, that agent, it would definitely establish a better framework for justification for murdering LaVoy.

I was in a position to see one FBI agent or officer.  I knew — I did know it was an FBI officer, because I knew OFFICER  NO. 3 had moved up into — or moving towards the timber as he fell and was struggling to kind of get that way, and I — so, yeah, I knew that that agent was in the path of that truck, and in the process of the truck plowing full speed around the FBI vehicles, it looked to me like he was hit by the truck, and I believed he was under it, and as I approached, I was looking for the agent to see what -I could do to cover him and provide any aid and identify where he was.

But, we need to revisit shooting LaVoy — have got to make it a stronger case {104-105}.

Q.  So with your experience, would you say that Finicum was complying with the commands?

A.  No. So let me elaborate on that.

Finicum was moving away from the vehicle.  Finicum was approaching me and looking at me.  Finicum had more than ample opportunity to turn around and comply with the commands.  Finicum actively reached in an area that I believed and had information that he was carrying a firearm.  He did this more than once, and the second time as he’s now avoiding back away from me, he is still not showing any signs of complying with our presence or our commands.

He reaches clearly like he is reaching into, you know, the left side of his torso, where a weapon would be kept, and I know that through my training and experience, that had he pulled that weapon out and fired, or, had he pulled it out, I could not have reacted to stopping that threat to myself or to OFFICER  NO. 3, and the decision to use force against Finicum was to prevent any injury to OFFICER  NO. 3 or, myself.

And I know that that motion to pull a gun out can happen faster than I can react to it, and I couldn’t wait for the gun to be pointed at OFFICER NO. 3 or myself, that additionally, I know that a gun can be fired through a jacket right between arm and his torso, which would have been in line with where OFFICER  NO. 3 was.

Q.  Okay. What was your perception of the distance between Finicum and OFFICER NO. 3?

A.  Roughly 15 feet.

Now, let’s take another break {109-110}, and then we can improve what the record will show.

There is a couple things I’d like to add and clarify.  At the point the vehicle’s approaching, we had the group that was there, had set out spike strips.  The spike strips were just in front of the vehicles, and I knew that that would have no effect on slowing down that pickup that was coming at us.  I knew that that would not change the velocity of that vehicle and the impact it was going to have on coming into our scene.

When I made the decision to fire at Finicum, and I’m covering, and I use that force, I believed that he was going to pull a gun and shoot OFFICER  NO. 3, and in that moment with everything I was observing, the actions and verbal statements, everything that I had learned and been briefed on, I truly believed that he was going to shoot OFFICER  NO. 3.

Q.  For clarification, also for you, too, right? For your safety as well?

A.  Yeah. I mean obviously he had seen where I was, He had engaged, made eye contact with me prior to that moment, and clearly I was exposed to him and whatever actions he was actively trying to take, and what would have continued to happen if I did not use deadly physical force at that moment.

So, now, he realizes that shooting at the truck would serve no purpose, but, heck, I just wanted to shoot somebody.  After all, I had to get up early and drive all of the way out here.

And, I was sure that he was going to shoot Officer #3, it’s just that Officer #3 didn’t realize he was going to get shot — if I didn’t shoot first.  Oh, can I use that, too?  Yes, I feared for my own safety, as well.

Officer #4

Next, we have the digitally recorded, then transcribed, interview of Officer #4 {143-185}.  The interview was conducted on January 29, 2016.

Now, we have been told that this was a felony arrest stop, the purpose being to arrest those individuals that were considered the leaders of the Malheur NWR occupation.  However, the absence of a warrant brings into question the justification of the stop, as explained in Ambush.  However, Officer #4 appears to have been paying attention.  When the following occurred {149}:

DCSO 4: Ok.  So, who-who was in charge of the operation?  Who’s running the show?

OFFICER 4: So, basically, it, uh, it was FBI’s, uh, information, we were just basically there to kind of, uh, assist with helpin’ ’em, how it was planned and how, uh, we were gonna be, uh, conducting, and determine who the traffic stop on, uh, then take those people into custody.  An had info-basically knowledge that they had, um, an active, uh, arrest warrant for ’em.

DCSO 4: -Um-hum-

OFFICER 4: –not warrant, but uh, information that they could be detained.

So, he realizes that there was no arrest warrant, that they “could be detained”.  Darn, everybody else, even the FBI spokesman, has said that the stop was to arrest, not to detain.  But, this fits with the absence of a Criminal Complaint and Arrest Warrants, until after LaVoy was murdered.

Here, Officer #4 {180-182} describes as he arrives at the shooting scene.  Of course, he also takes the Officer Safety routine, and even suggests that if could have gotten the safety off on his rifle, we would have shot, too.

He’s crossin’ over the centerline an takin’ like, wantin’ the the corners wide, uh then, obviously, I know the roadblock is up-up ahead of us, uh, cause they had that information that, um, there-he had now left and was going to be traveling towards them, um, the,.  I didn’t know the exact location of the roadblock, uh, but It was kinda set up around a cor-a little bit of a corner and then a straight stretch after that.  So, I was following behind still, um, tryin’ ta catch up him, come around the, uh, kinda of a corner and at that point I could see, uh, a brief period of brake lights on LaVoy’s pickup and then, uh, the brake lights go off an It appeared that the vehicle accelerated at that point and um, drove-it almost initially looked like it was gonna take and just plow directly into all the vehicles and instead it looked like it made a last second decision to kinda go, uh, left and barely missed the spike strips that were-that were put out… in front of all the vehicles, um, barely misses that, tries going around to the left to go through the deep snow an looked like he was tryin’ to drive basically around, uh, the roadblock set up there and, uh, truck become stuck in the snow, right after that, I can-I can see all-all this happen but I’m still, uh, a ways behind at this point.  Um, I see the spikes up ahead where it’s happenin’.  Soon as the vehicle comes to a stop, the driver’s door comes open and about that point I’m getting-I could see LaVoy comin’ out at the same time, I see movement kinda back up-as I’m watchin’ him, I could see movement back up and to the left of, um, LaVoy, that, and, uh, could see there was another OSP person back up that-uh, behind him near a tree.  And, so by this time, I stopped near the spike strips an get out an basically, uh, get my gun up through the, uh, between the door and the A pillar of the-of the truck, tryin’ ta come up on a sights, still see what’s goin’ on, I could see another OSP person moving to my left, kinda away from Finicum an Finicum seems to be more or less, uh, kinda travelin’ kinda at an angle toward that, uh, OSP person who was back up to the left, an-and initially when Finicum comes out, he’s got his hands raised in the air but by this time, ya know, I was outta the vehicle and I can actually hear what’s goin’ on and I can hear him just say ta fuckin’ shoot him, is what I recall um, so. eventually, uh, by the time I get my gun out and kinda up in that direction tryin’ ta-kinda quickly observe what’s goin’ or if people are gonna come out, uh, his hands come down lower and basically, um, looks like he kinda makes a-a real quick um, I’m not sure if he kinda stumbled an tried to catch himself or what, but, uh, I could see what I recall, at least two times, uh, clearly that he made an like initial grab over to, uh looked like, like he-he reachin’ for a gun.  Like I said, I know that he carries a, uh, a shoulder holstered pistol, um, on him.  So, makes a initial grab, almost kinda looks like he didn’t-didn’t quite get it inside of his coat at that point and then almost reached up with uh, his, uh, second hand and was actually was able to get ahold of his coat and what I recall, uh, hold his coat and actually almost kinda get it open and then you could see him clearly reach inside, ya know-that point, I was tryin’-the first initial grab, uh, that he-he made to go inside, I believe he was going for his gun .  uh, and the gun I was actually shooting has a little bit longer safety on it to get to, um, per our policy is, ya know, ya have to be, uh, ya know, basically on on safety until you’ve made that decision to shoot.  At that point, I made the decision to shoot and was reaching out to get my safety off, uh, an actually had to roll my hand around, it takes a little bit longer to actually get to it.  uh, get my safety off, comin’ back up onto, ya know, getting’ back into target and see him then, like-like I say, clearly reach in-inside and, I-I believed he was going for his gun at that point, and that’s when I heard, uh, a couple shots go off.  I don’t know exactly how many, but, I-I mean it was at least a couple.  um, so once the shots go off, I basically kinda gettin’ on my trigger at that point, and but it-by then you could see that he’d been hit and went down pretty quick.  So that’s when I decided not ta-not shoot, um, stayed there on him fer a little bit, I mean, obviously everything seems like it happens super super fast, but um, ya know, once I could tell he was-he was actually down, uh, so from that point, I saw um.  ya know the-the OSP guy that was up off to the left of Finicum, they were in very close proximity to each other and that was the other reason I basically made that decision to shoot just because-just the close proximity to, uh, the other OSP officer that was there, uh, I felt that basically he was in danger, uh, and,  so, after he went down, um, after a minute or so, nobody had else had came out of the-the vehicle, um, I know other people scrabblin’ around all over the place.

Simply for an understanding of the OSP opinion of FBI, I include some Q&A {164-165} from the interview — about the mysterious FBI agents:

DCSO 4: and how about the FBI guy that was in your rig?

OFFICER 4: From what I recall he went by, ya know what?  I might be thinkin’ of a different person.  From what I recall, his name is Officer 13.  I’m not 100%

DCSO 4: -maybe-maybe Officer 13?

OFFICER 4: Maybe Officer 13.

DCSO 4: Ok.  Alright since I’ve been on this I’m figurin’ out these guys are mysterious.

OFFICER 4: (chuckles), yeah.

Officer #7

Next to be interviewed is Officer #7 {186-212}.  The top of the forms has a date of January 26, and the bottom, February 18.  However, the date of the interview is not given, only that the interview was conducted “At approximately 2143 hours” {187}.

Officer #7 describes his arrival at the scene of the shooting.  LaVoy is already “down hard” {201-202}.

DCSO 4: Ok, so, when you got there to this gray vehicle, you recall, um, any gunshots or less lethal being fired or commands being given, anything like that?

OFFICER 7: I heard-I heard a lot of um, I didn’t hear any gunshots, um, there was multiple people, um, yelling commands at the truck, I can’t tell you who was yelling what though.

DCSO 4: Ok.

OFFICER 7: Uh.  And as far as, um, less lethal, I, I believe when I got there, the right front passenger window, um, was broken and I assumed by one of the other member’s 40mms.

DCSO 4: Ok so-so what happened next?

OFFICER 7: Uh, I recall seeing, uh, an Individual that I recognized as being Mr. Finicum, um, he was lying, um, in the snow, uh, generally to the rear of his vehicle uh I recall uh, Officer 6 arriving shortly thereafter and I recall Officer 6 asking one of the FBI agents uh, something to the effect of what’s the status, or something to that effect, referring ta Mr. Finicum, an I recall the FBI agent stating something to effect of he’s down hard, which we all-er I interpreted as he had been shot.

DCSO 4: Ok.  So what-what happened next?

OFFICER 7: Uh, there was, um, I-I was being told-I-an I don’t-I can’t recall by who, one of-I believe-one of the agents near me, um there was still people in the vehicle not coming out.

DCSO 4: Um-hum.

OFFICER 7: Um.  One of the agents.  I don’t recall the verbiage he used, but he asked me ta put, um, 40mm.  uh, less lethal rounds, um, into, the vehicle I uh, made eye contact with Officer 6, um, and, uh verbally-I don’t remember what words exactly I used or he used but I, um, got verbal confirmation from him that I was ok to do that.

DCSO 4: Ok.

OFFICER 7: Um, and I then, uh, targeted the the area where the dash meets the front windshield and I believe I fired six rounds into the dash slash windshield area through the broken right front window.

DCSO 4: Ok.  Is that the right front passenger window?

OFFICER 7: Correct.

DCSO 4: Ok.  Now is that-are all those 40mm?

OFFICER 7: Yes.

DCSO 4: You remember what-what kind of less lethal-what kind of munition it is?

OFFICER 7: Yeah, those, um, were 40mm, um, they’re, uh, direct fire non-lethal rounds, these particular ones were filled, um, with, uh, OC powder.

DCSO 4: And what do those-look like?-Can you describe those rounds?

OFFICER 7: Uh, yeah, they-they have a-an aluminum casing, um, uh, there’s a kind of a black, it-um, the collar area an then these particular rounds the um the cartridge itself and the-the tip are all painted orange.

DCSO 4: Do-do you recall firing any of the-I guess the blue sponge rounds-impact rounds at all?

OFFICER 7: I-initially, I did not.

DCSO 4: Ok.

OFFICER 7: Uh I may have, um, fired blue-we call ’em blue tips, um, same cartridge but no OC powder, later.

DCSO 4: Ok.

OFFICER 7: But initially, I, I’m certain the first six were all the orange tips.

DCSO 4: Ok.  All the same spot, the dash windshield?

OFFICER 7: -correct

Here, again, we have a fusillade, and the government people can’t grasp why the people in the truck don’t just get out.  However, just to make it worse, shortly thereafter, he says, “There was-there was delay, uh, I believe-I had-I had reloaded, I didn’t, uh, ejected the empty casings from the multi launcher [A 40mm launcher that holds 6 rounds], um, I believe I put six more orange tips in, uh, there was a delay, uh, where no one had no one was coming out of the truck, um, I recall putting,  uh, firing more rounds into the same location, uh, the front dash slash wind-front window area but I don’t recall how many rounds I fired on that second um, deployment.”

Officer #5

Then we have the interview of Officer #5 {213-239}.  The interview was conducted on January 29, “At approximately 2242 hours” {214}.

Officer #5 describes his duties {219}, “So during the brief, I-I was told I would be driving the green van.  That was one of our, uh, vehicles that we brought for this operation.  I would be assigned to drive three FBI, uh, HRT members.  Two of them were gonna be main shooters with long guns and the third was their K-9 unit.”  So, the FBI HRT had “shooters“.  This kinda deviates from the OSP is going to do the stop and FBI do the arrests.

As Officer #5 exits his truck and begins to get a grasp on what is happening at the roadblock, just before LaVoy falls to the ground, he describes the provocation created by the FBI {226-227}.

An then as you work your way across the highway, there was, uh, one of our vehicles an then another FBI truck, if I recall correctly.  As-as we are finally pulling up, I hear one of the FBI agents say, “He’s shooting, He’s shooting!”  I look up an I see an individual out of the white truck with his hands kinda out to the sides, and one of our uh, I think it was Officer 3, one of our SWAT units-OSP was in-in the timber kinda coming out, so as I hear he’s shooting, he’s shooting, I look up and it looked to me like this individual was being challenged by Officer 3.  So, then I look back down, I have to stop the truck to let the FBI guys out, park, I say, “Go, go, go!”  I grab my 40 and as I’m stepping out, I see.  uh, at the vehicle-what’s called a nine banger-FBI said in the brief that they would have these-it’s basically a flashbang, uh, a noise sound diversionary device that has nine, like really bright little firecrackers-they said if something like this would occur, they would be throwing them, just to let us know, hey, man that’s not gonna be rapid succession of gun fire, that’s gonna be our nine bangers.  So I see them going off, and now I am closing distance to go up to our vehicles.  I remember there was-there was two FBI vehicles in the roadblock with ours in the middle.  I’m working my way out to that point, so I could start fortying if I needed to, uh, Finicum’s vehicle.  Doing, so, I see Finicum falling to the ground, so I’m thinking he’s complying with commands.  I get up to our vehicle with, uh, some FBI units and one of our, uh, SWAT units named Officer 1.  The FBI is, uh, asking for a 40mm to open the window because the-the passenger’s window in the front had been closed at this point.  It is not tinted.  The back passenger compartment window is tinted and-is also closed, so we cannot see In the truck.  So, they’re asking for authority to open those windows up.  So I step up, it’s loaded with an orange tip, which is an OC round, it’s a harder round, but will basically burst into an OC powder, when it hits, but we use ’em to break windows cuz they are a little bit harder initially.

So, an agent is yelling, “He’s shooting!  He’s shooting!”  This would get everyone in earshot on their toes, and really defensive — ready to shoot at the shooter.  To top it off, they are using “nine bangers”, to emulate rapid fire, possibly to force those in the truck to return fire.  Nothing provocative here.  Just move along.

Later {230}, he reaffirms that activity:

OFFICER 5: The-the loud noises I heard were the-what I interpreted as the nine bangs goin’ off.

DCSO 4: Ok, um-

OFFICER 5: –yeah, the only indication that somebody was shooting was the FBI agents saying he’s shooting, he’s shooting.  I didn’t know who.

It is difficult, given the above, to believe that the FBI HRT wasn’t trying to provoke a shootout.  The entire nature of the roadblock, had LaVoy not by-passed the initial intended stop, on the roadway, was to provide a perfect ambush kill zone.  Now, that would be speculative, without the testimony of Officer #5.  However, his testimony suggests the probability of that intention — kill them all.

Officer #6

In The Officer #6 transcription {242-274} we get a rather interesting comment {246} where he mentions State Police, FBI, and adds, “and there may have been other people Involved, but a lot of people were plain clothes and not displaying identification.”  As far as what their purpose was, he says {249}, “We were told that there was federal probable cause for arrest of the main players.

In discussing Shawna Cox’s exit from the vehicle, he describes her difficulty in negotiating the heavy snow {271}, we get this sequence:

(#3867): OK.  I just want to confirm that, Um, and then even even though they had to walk over, uh, presumably the same snow that LaVoy Finicum had just walked over, is that correct?  The same area of snow?

(#6): The same area, I don’t, I couldn’t attest to the depth of the snow,

(#3867): Right.

(#6): But she was having some difficulty navigating it.

When Officer #6 was asked if wanted to add anything, he made this comment {272}, somewhat surprised at not understanding that he had participated in the murder of an innocent man, with no constitutional authority or arrest warrant to do so:

The only thing that’s struck me as very odd, uh, as we were getting the scene organized and turned over for investigation, uh, the people who were detained were all standing with FBI agents, uh, who were part of the operation.  And as I walked to talk to one of the the FBI guys to coordinate some, uh, I forget what I was going to coordinate, but wanted to talk to them, the older lady, who had trouble navigating the snow, looked at me and asked me if I believe In the constitution.  Which struck me weird because a man was just killed.  Uh, in in my experience, my 15,16 years in law enforcement, when some, something like this happens, whether you know the person who was shot or injured, or you’re just a bystander, that’s what they want to talk about.  And so her question about whether I believed in the constitution or not, it almost, it irritated me.  You know, cause that’s what we want to talk about right now?  OK.  And then so, I started to walk away.  I remember Mr. Payne turning around and mean mugging me, trying to give me a dirty look like he’s a tough guy.  And I didn’t understand that.  Like it’s not the time for, you know, your attitude right now.

Unfortunately, many have taken the oath simply to get their jobs — with no real consideration to what they have taken an oath.  He just doesn’t seem to understand that he has only dealt with criminals, in the past.

Officer #8

Finally, we get to the Officer #8 {275-298} interview, and the last of the interviews in the report.

It appears that some believed that it was to “detain”, some believed that there were arrest warrants, and Officer #8, well:

(#3867): OK.  And what was the, uh, was their, uh, crimes that they had committed?  Or what was your understanding about, uh, the reason to arrest them?

(#8): Uh, we were told (cough) that there were federal indictments out on these individuals for, uh, it was some longwinded, uh, federal statute that I don’t exactly, I’m not going to, uh, I’d butcher it if I tried to repeat it.

With regard to walking in the snow, we have this testimony {285}:

(#3867): I saw, at the scene, when I was there, that there’s some snow where that truck and uh, and uh, stopping and it’s fairly deep in some areas.

(#8): Yes.

(#3867): Did did they have to walk over that snow to get to, uh, where they were taken in to custody?

(#8): Yeah, they did.

(#3867): OK.  Uh, they then, uh, they fall over?  Um.

(#8): They st, they looked like they stumbled.  Uh, you know, they tried to have their hands up and their hands dropped for for a little bit, but, uh, it was one of those things that you could certainly tell that that it was because of the terrain they were walking on and not because of, they were actually trying to grab a weapon.

(#3867): OK.

(#8): So, it was clear to me and that that even though they might have dropped their hands for a brief second, that it we really wasn’t, the intent wasn’t there.

So, again, walking in the snow, especially with hands held up, creates an observable “stumbling”, as LaVoy’s walking was described by some of the officers, is “reaching for a gun” a justification, after the fact, for shooting LaVoy?  Especially considering that one officer even testified that an agent said, “He’s shooting!  He’s shooting!”

After a break, we come back to clarify that “fear” in the officers.  Officer #8 tells us {294-295}:

Um, so um, our team had had a few, uh, briefings and an then talked about, uh, the situation and I know several times we were told, “Yeah, just be prepared, er, if this, this is developing” and then, “Expect to be called”.  Um, having bags packed in case you are called and prepared for cold weather.  Um, during, during, uh, these briefings, we were told that, uh, a little bit of the history-back in 2014, uh, with the stand-off of when he was in Nevada, when they actually, uh, confronted federal agents, pointed rifles at, uh, federal agents, uh, that they had counter-sniper positions, sometimes even two, one to two guns per agent on them.  So, and they were able intimidate those agents, uh, and made them retreat, uh, so, there was a sense of empowerment that they could do this and get away with it.  Um, received pictures, huhh, both on the news and the briefings of, uh, these key players, Ammon, uh, Finicum, Payne, uh, Ryan Bundy, all these guys.  Uh, they, we’ve been told that they known, they’ve been known to carry firearms.  I’ve seen, uh, pistols on hips ranging from, uh, semiautomatic to to revolvers, uh, shoulder holsters, uh, people carrying everything from a hunting rifle to shotguns to, uh, semiautomatic rifles.  We were told that they had people at the refuge with, uh, in the tower, uh, with possibly .50 caliber, um, rifles.  So we were told that these these folks were were were well armed, um, and that they may say this that they need, are willing to die for their cause, um, to fight, fight the government, uh, to get the land back, to get the Hammonds, uh, out of prison.

And, finally, from Officer 3866 {323}, we know that LaVoy’s body was removed at about 1:00 AM, on January 27 (the next morning).

As far as Crime Scene photos, either Officer 3866 was obsessed with LaVoy’s truck being difficult to remove from its location, frozen in the snow bank {325-356}, or we are simply denied any photos with substance.

Surely an interview was done with Officer #3.  He was the closest to LaVoy Finicum and best able to describe what happened during the shooting, especially his observation of whether he was scared and whether LaVoy was stumbling, or reaching for a gun,  Absent his interview, we must wonder why the government chose to keep it from us.

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5 Responses to “Burns Chronicles No 16 – Ambush – Part 3 – As Told and Retold by Government Witnesses”

  1. Keith says:

    Hi Gary was just wondering if you have seen the second report that was released that has officer #3 statement in it, it is about 25 pages long. Would be good to read your take on it.
    Cheers

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