Supporters from across the country gather in Utah for funeral of LaVoy Finicum

Posted at 5:39 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 23:49:20-05

KANAB, Utah -- More than a thousand people from across the country gathered in Kanab Friday for the funeral of Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, who was shot and killed by authorities in Oregon during the standoff and protest at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

LaVoy's two eldest daughters spoke at a press conference after the services, saying they believe their father didn't break the law, but the federal government did. The family is calling for a private, independent investigation into LaVoy's death.

"Do we believe that two hands up and surrender justifies the use of deadly force?" asked Belle Collier.

"We don't want the FBI's bias, we want the truth," said Thara Tenney.

LaVoy Finicum's family said a lot of people in the past week have only focused on the way he died, but they said it's more important to focus on the way he lived.

"These past few weeks our father has been called many names by the world, but I'll tell you what we call him: We call him daddy," Tenney said.

Horses with empty saddles galloped past LaVoy Finicum's family and supporters, as they carried the casket to his final resting place. It was one last ride for the lifelong rancher.

"We've often said LaVoy was born a century too late, you know, so the honor of being led off in a wagon and escorted by horseback is an honor for any cowboy,” said David Cluff, one of Fincium’s cousins.

Many of the people attending the funeral said they never even met LaVoy, but they wanted to be here because they share the same values.

"This is a great American patriot,” said Loie Corson, who attended the services. “I didn't know him, and I might not have done it the way he did, but I really feel in my heart that he tried to do it through the system. He tried to take the legal channels, and when you go up against the system: it's tough.”

Finicum and fellow protesters had been occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Police tried to arrest Finicum and others on January 26. Aerial video from the FBI shows Finicum getting out of his truck, with his hands in the air. Police say he then reached into his pocket for a gun. That's when they shot him.

Finicum's family has said they don't believe LaVoy posed a threat and that they don't accept at face value the FBI's assertion he was armed when he was killed.

Terri Linnell was among the protesters in Oregon and she also attended Friday’s services. She said she believes the authorities were not justified in their actions.

"What they did to him was a hit, there was no other way to put it,” she said. “What they did to him was wrong.”

FOX 13 News also spoke to a local Kanab resident, who said he doesn't believe LaVoy Finicum deserves any of this recognition.

"He was not a hero; he was breaking the law," said Robert Brisette. "The cause was good, but the way they went about it was wrong."

Brisette said it is people like his son, who died of PTSD after serving his country in the Persian Gulf, who are the real heroes in this country.

"There are quite a few people who feel the same way I do, but they don't want to voice it because this is a small town and we all have to live with each other," Brisette said.