Passengers in Malheur Occupier Lavoy Finicum's Truck Sue State and Federal Officials

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Air date: 
Fri, 02/02/2018 - 5:00pm to 5:15pm

Three passengers riding in Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum’s truck when he was shot and killed by Oregon State Troopers have filed suit against several parties, including Governor Kate Brown, Harney county officials, and FBI agents.

Finicum was a spokesman for the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupiers.  On January 26, 2016, he fled an Oregon State Police traffic stop while on his way to a community meeting.  When he encountered an FBI roadblock further up US 395, he crashed his truck into a snow bank. His three passengers reportedly huddled in the truck while Finicum got out and walked away. According to police, Finicum then reached toward his inner jacket pocket where he had a loaded nine-millimeter handgun. He was shot three times and died at the scene. 

An investigation by the Malheur County Sheriff and District Attorney found the shooting justified. But now, Finicum’s passengers—Shawna Cox, Ryan Bundy, and Victoria Sharp, along with Ryan Payne who got out of the truck at the traffic stop—have filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Portland. Now, according to the Oregonian, the four plaintiffs, who are representing themselves, write in their complaint that they were victims of an “armed ambush, excessive-force seizure, conspiracy, battery and assault." 

They are seeking a damage award of up to nine million dollars. They also want to prevent the named defendants from holding public office in the future.

According to the Oregonian, those defendants are Oregon Governor Kate Brown; Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward; two officers with the Sheriff’s office and a Harney County Commissioner; FBI Special Agent Greg Bretzing, who was in charge of Oregon's FBI at the time; Mark McConnell, who was an FBI informant driving occupation leader Ammon Bundy off the refuge that day; and W. Joseph Astarita, the FBI agent who is under indictment for making false statements about the incident. Astarita, Governor Brown and the Harney officials were also named defendants in a suit filed by Finicum’s family last week. 

The multi-million-dollar claim alleges that Finicum was "deliberately executed by a pre-planned government ambush, after he had exited his vehicle with his hands up."

--Jasmin Moneymaker, KBOO

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