BURNS, Ore. - WARNING: The video in this story contains graphic images of the shooting of LaVoy Finicum.
In an unexpected move, the FBI released video Thursday of state police officers fatally shooting one of the armed Oregon protesters who took over a remote wildlife refuge as a sign of protest against government land-grabbing and over-reaching.
Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, 54, died Tuesday during the arrest of occupation ringleader Ammon Bundy and six others during a traffic stop near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. His death was captured on video taken from an FBI plane that shot footage as Finicum, driving a white truck, was pursued and ultimately confronted and killed by Oregon State Police officers.
"I want to caution you that the video does show the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum," said Greg Bretzing, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Portland. "We realize that viewing that piece of the video will be upsetting to some people, but we feel that it is necessary to show the whole thing unedited in the interest of transparency."
He said it was "incumbent" on law enforcement to show the video of Finicum, who he said behaved recklessly and made a motion toward a gun in his coat pocket.
Supporters of the militants who took over the refuge had claimed Finicum was gunned down in cold blood and have used his death as an anti-government rallying cry. The FBI released the video to allay public concerns over "inflammatory" accounts of the shooting, Bretzing said.
Bretzing said Finicum eventually pulled the truck over and was ordered by officers to surrender.
"Finicum leaves the truck and steps through the snow," Bretzing said. "Agents and troopers on scene had information that Finicum and others would be armed. On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket. He did have a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket. At this time, OSP troopers shot Finicum."
FBI agents are not generally equipped with body cameras, but video of the incident involving Finicum was captured by accompanying law enforcement, an official familiar with the matter said Thursday. The official was not authorized to comment publicly.
On Wednesday, Bundy urged his followers to leave the refuge, saying the fight "is ours for now in the courts. Please go home." The protesters had been holed up at the refuge for over three weeks,protesting what they say is federal tyranny and government land-grabbing in the nation's West.