Family Of Dead Oregon Occupier Accuses Government Of A ‘Cover-Up’

Occupier LaVoy Finicum speaks to press at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters near Burns, Ore., on January 9, 2016. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
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This post had been updated.

The family of an Oregon occupier who was killed in an encounter with law enforcement last month is now accusing the government of engaging in a “cover-up” of the man’s “unjustified” death,” The Oregonian reported.

LaVoy Finicum’s family released a statement Tuesday claiming new information from another standoff leader — who was at the scene of Finicum’s death and has since been released from federal custody — led them to believe that the FBI and the Oregon State Police are “seeking to manipulate and mislead the media and the American public about what really happened.”

The family said it based its claims on the account of fellow occupier Shawna Cox, who was among those arrested Jan. 26, when the authorities confronted a group of occupiers traveling to a community meeting dozens of miles away from the federal wildlife refuge they had taken over. Cox has emerged as a key witness to the shooting. She gave an account of what happened during the encounter in a web-based talk show last weekend. Another occupier, Mark McConnell, who was present for the initial traffic stop but not for the shooting, has claimed that Cox told him Finicum “charged” the police before he was shot. The family in its statement dismissed McConnell: “[A]t this point it seems fairly obvious that McConnell was either an undercover agent who was helping to orchestrate the whole thing, or he was bribed somehow.”

In the statement, the Finicum family said it believes that law enforcement began firing on Finicum before he exited his vehicle. Finicum was driving a white truck that authorities said fled officers after the initial stop. Aerial video released by the FBI showed the white truck plowing into a snow bank after it encountered a road block further down the highway. The family’s statement suggested that once he did leave his truck, his gesture towards his waistband that appeared to be him possibly reaching for a weapon was actually an “involuntary physical reflex.” The statement said that Cox also told the family that the authorities made no serious effort to treat Finicum’s gunshot wounds, and would not let Cox — who said she was an EMT — administer care herself.

Days after the shooting, the FBI released video of the encounter, in order, agency officials said, to counter the alternative accounts — “some of them inflammatory” — emerging about Finicum’s death.

The Finicum family, in its statement Tuesday, accused the FBI of “preemptive efforts to manipulate public opinion under the guise of transparency” and is demanding further evidence from Finicum’s death be released, including an audio recording from Cox’s phone, dash-cam video and images of Finicum’s truck.

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