Nothing in the pursuit of justice will ever restore the Finicum Family’s joy and happiness, that they experienced, with LaVoy Finicum home and alive with them, but Jeanette Finicum has pursued justice from the day her husband was so unnecessarily shot down on a lonely stretch of Highway 395, due to his role as one of the leaders of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve.
Her perseverance has resulted in the trial of Joseph Astarita, the FBI agent who fired the shots and ignited the hailstorm of bullets that ended LaVoy’s life, an ignoble act by the FBI and law enforcement who took part in the ambush, reminiscent of their action against Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge.
His trial underway as of this July 24th, Astarita stands accused of falsely denying that he fired two shots at LaVoy, and he is charged with three counts of making false statements, by U.S. Attorney Billy Williams, and two counts of obstruction of justice. However, through scientific methods and aerial video of the ambush, it has been determined that it was Astarita who fired the first shots, as LaVoy exited his truck, something Astarita’s lawyers still refute. They state a belief that it was one of the Oregon Highway Patrol, who fired those first shots.
Robert LaVoy Finicum led a small band of protesters, including Cliven Bundy’s sons, Ryan and Ammon, American Patriots, who understood that the federal government and the Bureau of Land Management were consistently and constantly acquiring or simply taking land unconstitutionally, from farmers and ranchers across America. These men and women were standing firm for property rights under Our Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution, when they occupied Malheur, near Burns, Oregon, on January 2nd 2016 and began a stand off with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, detailed by Les Zaitz in The Oregonian, that lasted forty-one days.
Since they had left the refuge before without incident, they expected this day, on January 26th 2016, to be no different. Imagine their shock, when the ambush and shooting occurred soon after LaVoy, Ryan and Ammon Bundy and Shawna Cox and Victoria Sharp, along with several others, started on their way to meet peacefully with Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer in John Day County. They had viewed their act of civil disobedience as a simple demonstration, much less severe and dangerous than other protests generated by Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, who were destroying entire cities without any real consequence from law enforcement.
After successfully evading the first road block, LaVoy told his friends [3 minutes 9 seconds mark], “Better understand how this thing is going to end. I’m going to be laying down on the ground with my blood on the street, or I’m going to see the sheriff. We got people en route.”
According to Robert Cary, Astarita’s lawyer, it was at this point that one Oregon State Patrolman radioed ahead to “Officer 1” and stated, “We’re going to have to shoot LaVoy Finicum.”
At the second roadblock, shots rained down on LaVoy’s truck before he ever stopped, forcing him to plow into a snow bank, allegedly just narrowly missing an FBI agent. And, as he jumped from the truck, to draw fire from his friends, with his hands raised above his head, two shots rang out, one shattering the driver’s side passenger window and striking Ryan Bundy in the shoulder.
In Shawna Cox’s video of the ambush, one hears the police telling him to “Get down” and LaVoy yelling, “You’re gonna have to shoot me”. Cox is heard asking, “Damn it, are they shooting him? … You assholes.”
The April 24th 2018 amendment [see page 51, number 269] to Jeanette Finicum’s current lawsuit for the wrongful death of her husband speaks volumes:
“The FBI, OSP and other defendants have publicly defended the deliberate ambush and murder of LaVoy on January 26, 2016, by alleging that after he exited the vehicle, and after he had been shot with at least five lethal rounds (as well as unknown number of non-lethal rounds), and after he repeatedly placed his hands on top of his head in a surrender position; that he appeared to be reaching into his jacket.”
One of the most damning points within Mrs Finicum’s complaint, found on page 33, highlights the fact that “at the time of the so-called ‘traffic stop’, there was still no sworn affidavit or probable cause statement or indictment against LaVoy or any of the passengers” — his friends accompanying him. Neither was there any arrest warrant for anyone involved.
Witnesses are on record noting that Astarita’s face was contorted after the shooting, and he was loud and “so amped up” that a supervisor had to calm him down. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Sussman also noted: “Only one guy [Astarita] stood in just the right spot. … Only one guy aimed right at Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum’s pickup [and] fired two shots in rapid succession.”
Astarita’s trial follows a growing resentment among American patriots for a federal bureaucracy that is out of control, even to the point of committing sedition, possibly treason, against a sitting U.S. president. It also doesn’t help that the FBI has a long history of arbitrary, tyrannical actions, detailed by Leah Sottile, such as witnessed in 1992, when an FBI team descended on Ruby Ridge and the home of Randy Weaver, a U.S. Army Special Forces Veteran, and a sniper murdered Vicki Weaver, as she stood in the cabin doorway holding the couple’s baby.
Just before stepping from LaVoy’s truck, hands raised, Ryan Bundy looked out and saw LaVoy lying in the snow. He turned towards Shawna Cox and Victoria Sharp and said, “LaVoy is dead.”
It doesn’t really matter, in the end, whose bullets killed LaVoy, because it shouldn’t have ended like this anyway. LaVoy had time and again stated a desire to make sure that the stand off ended peacefully, and up until the day of the ambush, there wasn’t any reason to believe that it wouldn’t, since LaVoy had been in constant contact with Sheriff Glenn Palmer, who was quite sympathetic to the cowboy’s cause. These men weren’t “anti-government”; they were anti-tyranny.
During the 2016 trial that acquitted Ammon Bundy and six other defendants, the FBI and Oregon Highway Patrol both testified they could not have identified specific legal reasons for the stop. This can only mean that had law enforcement not escalated the situation, LaVoy Finicum would have also been acquitted and alive and well at home with his family.
Robert Lavoy Finicum was willing to die for his ideas, the Constitution and freedom, and as we rise to a new sun each day, we must work in this America, the home of the brave and the land of the free, to ensure that not any future Democrat led administration, or any administration, can ever target conservative protests in such an egregious manner, impeding liberty each step of the way and executing us at will. The Finicum’s fight to hold the federal government accountable for its arrogant lawlessness, dishonesty and violence is America’s fight.
LaVoy was a good man, gunned down in cold blood. And whether or not any degree of justice comes out of this trial, God’s accounting awaits each of us one day. I pray to God justice be served and the Finicum Family finds peace of mind and heart.