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FBI releases footage from fatal traffic stop during Oregon standoff

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Posted at 7:49 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 21:49:52-05

WARNING: The video below contains footage from a fatal encounter involving the FBI and Oregon State Police as they encounter LaVoy Finicum and other protesters. While not necessarily graphic in nature, viewer discretion is advised. 

OREGON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released video footage captured by an airplane that shows a traffic stop near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon during which protester LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed.

The FBI posted two clips on YouTube, with one shorter, edited video focusing on the moments of greatest action and another, longer video reportedly showing the events in full. The shortened video includes notations describing what was cut and why in some cases. See above for the shorter version and the bottom of this post for the complete video.

In the shortened video, a white SUV or van appears to travel some distance with police vehicles behind it before it stops. Law enforcement agents appear to prepare for an approach, but ultimately the vehicle starts moving again.

At about 5:50 into the video, the white vehicle appears to accelerate toward a road block before diverting off the road and into the snow.

A moment later, a man presumed to be Finicum exits the vehicle and stands with his hands up. At about 6:02 the man appears to make a gesture as if reaching for something in a pocket or on his hip. The man makes several similar gestures, and at 6:07 into the video he falls to the ground as an officer appears to fire a weapon.

Oregon Live reports the FBI stated during a press conference that Finicum had a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol in the pocket he appeared to be reaching for. Oregon Live reports five people were arrested after the traffic stop, including Shawna J. Cox, 59 of Kanab. The other arrested parties are 40-year-old Ammon Bundy of Emmett, Idaho; 43-year-old Ryan Bundy of Bunkerville, Nevada; 32-year-old Ryan W. Payne of Anaconda, Montana; and 44-year-old Brian Cavalier of Bunkerville, Nevada.

The video comes after family and supporters of Finicum have claimed the man was murdered in cold blood while he had his hands in the air. FOX 13 News spoke with Finicum family attorney Todd Macfarlane, who said the witness accounts contradict what law enforcement reported about the incident. 

“This wasn’t some kind of routine traffic stop; this was a planned ambush with over 40 vehicles,” Macfarlane said. “We don’t know how many people, they were out for blood.”

Victoria Sharp, another protester, stated via social media she was in the car and offered this account: “He got out of the car and he had his hands in the air and he’s like, ‘Just shoot me then, just shoot me,’ and they did, they shot him dead.”

Protest leader Ammon Bundy, through his attorney, has called for an end to the stand off, saying people should take a step back in the light of a loss of life. 

Greg Bretzing, the FBI’s special agent in charge of Oregon, spoke to CNN about their decision to release the footage.

“We know there are various versions of what occurred during this event: most inaccurate, some inflammatory,” he said. “To that end, we want to do what we can to lay out an honest and unfiltered view of what happened and how it happened.”

He also said: “I want to caution you that the video does show the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum. 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.”

There are currently four people believed to remain inside the wildlife refuge, and CNN reports they say they are ready to leave peacefully or are prepared to die.

“Our negotiators are working around the clock,” Bretzing told CNN. “As I indicated earlier, nine people have left since the roadblocks have been established. We’re hopeful that those negotiators will continue to be able to persuade others to leave the refuge.”

This is a developing story. FOX 13 News will have more information as it becomes available.