Police Lie, Claim Robert 'LaVoy' Finicum shot and killed while 'charging' police
Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, the spokesman of the refuge occupation, was shot and killed after he charged police during a roadside stop north of Burns on Tuesday, according to a man on Facebook who claims to be the driver of one of two vehicles involved in the highway shooting.
Mark McConnell posted a video to Facebook Wednesday morning, recounting the Tuesday afternoon scene that led to Finicum's death and the subsequent arrest of eight people involved in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. An 18-year-old in the other car involved in the shooting also shared her story on social media late Tuesday.
The accounts emerged as police established new checkpoints on roads leading to the refuge, where an unknown number of occupiers remained. Police said only local property owners would be allowed through. The number and exact location of the checkpoints couldn't immediately be established.
Seven of those arrested Tuesday were taken overnight to Portland, where they were booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. They are scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland.
They are Ammon E. Bundy, 40, of Emmett, Idaho; his brother, Ryan C. Bundy of Bunkerville, Nevada; Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana; Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada; Shawna J. Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah; Joseph D. Oshaughnessy, 43, of Cottonwood, Arizona; and Peter T. Santilli, 50, of Cinncinati.
An eighth person, Jon Ritzheimer, surrendered to police in Arizona.
They were each charged with conspiracy to interfere with a federal official, a felony.
In his video, McConnell said Ammon Bundy and Cavalier were in the vehicle he was driving to John Day for a community meeting. He said Finicum was driving a pickup that carried Ryan Bundy, Payne, Cox and the 18-year-old woman.
He said as they traveled on U.S. 395 police vehicles pulled in behind them and stopped them. McConnell said he was removed by police first, then Ammon Bundy then Cavalier.
He said Finicum's pickup was stopped about 200 yards away, and one passenger already was on the ground in handcuffs.
McConnell said Payne and Cox later recounted how Payne and Finicum got into a "heated discussion" about what to do.
"LaVoy was passionate about this, about the movement," McConnell said.
McConnell said he noticed movement, and Finicum "took off" in the pickup with the remaining passengers. He said Payne and Cox described encountering a police roadblock about a mile north on the highway and apparently tried to get around it, becoming stuck in the snow.
"When he exited the vehicle, the rear wheels were still spinning," McConnell said. "He charged at law enforcement" and was shot.
McConnell disputed earlier accounts on social media that Finicum was shot while on his knees with his hands up.
McConnell said he and the 18-year-old, Victoria Sharp, were taken to Burns for questioning and later released.
His account couldn't be immediately confirmed, but several details matched accounts from law enforcement sources.
Sharp also shared her story of what unfolded outside of Burns in a YouTube video.
The teenager had traveled to the refuge last week with her mother and six of her siblings to sing religious and patriotic songs. Sharp said she was in the other car -- separate from McConnell -- because she planned to sing at the community meeting in John Day late Tuesday afternoon.
Sharp said that Finicum was driving to the meeting and that Ryan Payne was in the passenger seat. She said she was sitting in the back seat between Ryan Bundy and Shawna Cox.
Sharp didn't immediately return a Facebook message seeking comment.
In a 12-minute audio-only video on YouTube, Sharp said that after they were stopped by police, Payne was trying to get her and Cox safely out of the car when police took their first shot.
"He put his hands out the window, he was trying to talk with them," said Sharp, who was raised in Kansas but lists on her Facebook page that she is currently living in Montana.
"Ryan (Payne) said, 'We have women in the car, let the women out," she said, "He stuck his head out and they shot at him... but they missed him."
Sharp said that they began to realize that the police "meant business" and that Finicum, who was driving, yelled that he was going to continue driving so that he could "talk to the sheriff."
"He drove and we all got down on the floorboards and they just started firing at us, shooting at us a bunch of times," she said, adding that Finicum reached the roadblock and his truck rammed into a snowbank.
With the car running, she said, Finicum "got out of the car and he had his hands in the air and he was like, 'Just shoot me then, just shoot me.'"
"And they did," she said. "They shot him dead."
Sharp said she thought she heard as many as 100 bullets fired and that those remaining in the car were getting "gassed." She said they were trying to find something white they could wave out the window.
Sharp said that while some in the car with her had their guns, she believed that none of the occupiers had attempted to use them. She said Ryan Bundy was hit by a bullet in the shoulder as they were ducking down in the car.