Given that it involved a weeks-long occupation of federal property by armed men, facing off against equally armed law enforcement, the standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon ended almost as well as could be hoped—with the ringleaders, as well as Cliven Bundy, in jail, the refuge cleared, and only one death: that of LaVoy Finicum.
Finicum, who had become a de facto spokesman for the occupation, was shot on January 26 when Oregon State Police and FBI intercepted two cars that occupiers were driving to John Day, a nearby town. Both cars stopped. The occupants of one car surrendered, but Finicum, driving the other, drove ahead. When he encountered a roadblock, he tried to drive around it, but his SUV became lodged in snow. This was his vehicle’s second stop. Finicum jumped out of the vehicle and was shot. Even that shooting struck many observers as justified: Finicum had nearly hit agents with the truck, and as he was shot he was reaching for a pocket where a gun was found.
But now the clean finish isn’t looking so clean after all. A three-county investigation that wrapped up last week found that Finicum’s shooting by Oregon State Police was justified, but it also revealed the existence of two mystery shots, apparently fired by FBI agents. OSP officers apparently shot six shots—three at the truck as it barreled toward the roadblock, and then another three that struck Finicum after he left the car. But a cellphone recording by one of the people in the car, Shawna Cox, revealed two other shots, one of which blew out a window.