The widow of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum is suing the Oregon State Police, the FBI and others over her husband’s death during the 2016 armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Jeanette Finicum filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday, the second anniversary of her husband’s death. The lawsuit is for $5 million each for herself, her 12 children and her deceased husband’s estate, a total of $70 million plus court costs, The Oregonian reports.
LaVoy was “fatally shot three times in the back, assassination style, by one or more militarized officers of the Oregon State Police and/or FBI,” the lawsuitstates. “He was deliberately executed by a pre-planned government ambush, after he had exited his vehicle with his hands up.”
WATCH: Video released by the FBI shows a cellphone video from inside the cab overlaid with footage from an FBI drone in the air. Finicum’s death comes after the 5:30 mark. WARNING: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE
Days before the shooting, Jeanette had visited her husband at Malheur, staying with him from Thursday, Jan. 21, through Sunday, Jan. 24.
“My husband took me into town for breakfast, we went to church, he was actively engaged all day with people, teaching them about the Constitution and property rights,” Jeanette told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It was a peaceful place, quite frankly.”
Jeanette’s husband was killed that Tuesday, Jan. 26.
The plaintiffs and authorities have made a series of competing claims surrounding LaVoy’s death. The situation is made more complex by the unethical and illegal actions federal prosecutors and agents took against the Bundy family, whom LaVoy was with at Malheur, and the ongoing trial of FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita.
Astarita was a member of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team and fired two shots into LaVoy’s pickup after it crashed into a snowbank. Astarita “falsely stated he had not fired his weapon during the attempted arrest of Robert LaVoy Finicum,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamala Holsinger wrote in the indictment, according to OPB.
Astarita had opened fire on LaVoy’s vehicle after it swerved into a snowbank to avoid hitting an FBI roadblock. LaVoy, who was driving, and three others in his backseat, including Ryan Bundy, had been trying to outrun federal authorities. They were en route to a meeting with supporters in another county when authorities pulled them over. The FBI had learned about the meeting from an informant embedded at Malheur, and set up the traffic stop to take the men into custody.
Immediately after crashing, LaVoy exited his vehicle with his arms up, but dropped them to his jacket several times as he walked away from his vehicle. Federal agents circled while LaVoy called, “Go ahead and shoot me” and “You’re going to have to shoot me.”
After LaVoy reached to his side a third time, he was fatally shot by federal agents.
Authorities report that agents shot LaVoy as he was reaching for a loaded 9mm Ruger semi-automatic handgun in his jacket pocket. Officers also found two handguns and two MP15 rifles under the back seat, according to The Oregonian.
“Mr. Finicum repeatedly and knowingly made choices that put him in this situation,” Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan said in 2016 after the investigation into LaVoy’s death. “It was not the outcome that any of us wanted but one he, alone, is responsible for.”
Jeanette maintains that the fault lie with the FBI, police, Bureau of Land Management and others involved at Malheur.
“I hope that there is accountability and justice for my husband,” Jeanette told TheDCNF. “If LaVoy hadn’t been murdered that day, he would’ve been afforded due process, his day in court and he would be a free man right now. And he would be home with our family.”
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