Oregon authorities to shed light on death of refuge occupier LaVoy Finicum

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LaVoy Finicum sits on the ground in protest at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon. He was killed in the Bundy traffic stop according to a law enforcement official. The official said when FBI and other law enforcement made the stop of two vehicles everyone obeyed orders to surrender except for two, Finicum and Ryan Bundy.

LaVoy Finicum sits on the ground in protest at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon. He was killed in the Bundy traffic stop according to a law enforcement official. The official said when FBI and other law enforcement made the stop of two vehicles everyone obeyed orders to surrender except for two, Finicum and Ryan Bundy.

(CNN) — The final moments of LaVoy Finicum are expected to be revisited Tuesday when Oregon authorities give an update on the investigation into his shooting death. Finicum was the lone armed occupier of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to die at law enforcement’s hands in the 41-day standoff.

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and Malheur County District Attorney Dan Morris are set to hold a joint news conference Tuesday in Bend, Oregon, on the January 26 shooting of Finicum, the sheriff’s office said.

The occupation of part of the federal wildlife refuge ended peacefully February 11 when the last four occupiers surrendered to authorities. They’d once been among a larger group who took over the refuge’s headquarters in a defiant protest of federal land policies. They decried the arson convictions of father-and-son ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond (though the Hammonds insisted they didn’t want help from the occupiers, led by Ammon Bundy.)

For weeks, authorities positioned themselves outside a Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building near Burns — not charging in to get the occupiers but not giving them a free pass to stay or easily leave either.

Some of the occupiers insisted that they planned to stay as long as it took and that they were prepared to die.

Finicum was the only one who did.

Finicum drove away from police, FBI says

Finicum was driving one of two vehicles authorities tracked leaving the Malheur refuge January 26. One — carrying Bundy, the protest leader whose father, Cliven, was at the center of a similar armed standoff in 2014 — pulled over to a stop, and the people inside came out peacefully.

Video posted to the FBI’s YouTube channel showed Finicum kept going. He stopped at one point (and an occupant from his truck got out) and then resumed driving “at a high rate of speed,” Greg Bretzing, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Oregon, said two days after the shooting.

Approaching a roadblock on U.S. Highway 395, his white truck apparently missed a spike strip and narrowly avoided hitting an FBI agent before becoming stuck in a snowbank. Finicum then got out.

“On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket … on his jacket,” Bretzing told reporters in January. “He did have a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket.

“At this time, (Oregon State Police) troopers shot Finicum.”

Victoria Sharp, 18, later told CNN that she was one of three people inside the truck. She alleged Finicum had been unjustly gunned down, challenging the assertion that he’d reached for a weapon.

“He was not doing anything aggressive, anything,” Sharp insisted. “He was just walking.”

No final determination has been made in the case.

“We know there are various versions of what occurred during this event: most inaccurate, some inflammatory,” Bretzing has said, explaining that authorities released the video showing Finicum’s final minutes “in the interest of transparency.”

“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.”

The shooting occurred in Harney County, but Bretzing has said the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office would conduct “the outside review of the shooting per Oregon state law and established protocols.”

Late rancher vowed he wouldn’t go to prison

The Arizona rancher and published author left behind 11 children, some of whom were adopted. And this family — “like the Brady Bunch on steroids,” Finicum told CNN in December — was growing, with two grandchildren on the way.

“So I’ve got a lot to live for,” he said.

Finicum remained defiant, at times sitting outside the occupiers’ Malheur refuge compound in a rocking chair, a rifle in his hands.

“I’m here to make it easy for the FBI to find me,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t use the rifle “unless someone points a weapon at me.”

While Finicum stated he felt the ordeal could “be peacefully resolved,” there was one outcome he couldn’t envision: time behind bars.

“I’m just not going to prison,” Finicum said. “Look at the stars. There’s no way I’m going to sit in a concrete cell where I can’t see the stars and roll out my bedroll on the ground. That’s just not going to happen.

“I want to be able to get up in the morning and throw my saddle on my horse and go check on my cows. It’s OK. I’ve lived a good life. God’s been gracious to me.”