Officials have shown footage of Robert Finicum's death to the press. His family's lawyer has claimed Finicum was not threatening the police, but authorities say he may have been reaching for a gun.
The FBI released details late on Thursday about the death of Oregon wildlife refuge occupier Robert LaVoy Finicum. The video purported to show the 54-year-old activist, a member of an armed resistance group, reaching inside his jacket pocket where police said he had a pistol.
The Arizona rancher, who acted as de facto spokesman for the protestors at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, had evaded a police barricade but exited the vehicle he was traveling in after it went into a snowbank.
The film, which was taken from the air and not extremely clear, showed Finicum raise his arms before flailing and lowering them moments before being shot by an Oregon State Police officer.
The group's leader, Ammon Bundy, was arrested at the same traffic stop on Tuesday. According to the FBI, he was carrying a firearm at the time.
Video released for 'transparency'
Special Agent Greg Bretzing said the FBI was releasing the footage "in the interest of transparency" even though it was potentially upsetting to view. The move to show the video to the press came after a lawyer for Finicum's family suggested there was evidence proving the rancher had not posed a threat to the officers.
The occupation began on January 2 after two local ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, were jailed for arson. The father and son have distanced themselves from the armed protest and voluntarily began serving their sentences. While the Hammond case was the immediate impetus for the takeover of the wildlife refuge, disputes over government land management policies between the authorities and ranchers go back decades in parts of the United States.
es/sms (Reuters, AFP)