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Rancher killed by police 'had gun in his pocket'

Published 29/01/2016

The scene moments before Robert Finicum was shot by police near Burns, Oregon (FBI/AP)
The scene moments before Robert Finicum was shot by police near Burns, Oregon (FBI/AP)

An FBI video of the fatal shooting of a spokesman for armed occupiers of an Oregon wildlife refuge has shown the man reaching into his jacket before falling into the snow.

Saying he had a gun in his pocket, the FBI showed the video at a news conference in Burns to counter claims that Arizona rancher Robert "LaVoy" Finicum , 54, who was killed in Tuesday's confrontation on a remote road, did nothing to provoke officers.

During that confrontation, the FBI and Oregon State Troopers arrested five main figures including Ammon Bundy, the group's main leader.

The video, shot by the FBI from a plane, shows a vehicle being driven by Bundy stopped by police on a road. A white truck driven by Finicum was stopped but sped off, with officers in pursuit. The video shows Finicum's vehicle hitting a bank of snow when encountering a roadblock.

A man identified as Finicum gets out of the truck, there is gunfire as he reaches into his jacket, and he falls into the snow.

"On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket," said Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge for the FBI in Portland.

"He did have a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in the pocket."

Mr Bretzing said Finicum's truck nearly hit an FBI agent before it got stuck in the snow. "Actions have consequences," he said. "The FBI and OSP tried to effect these arrests peacefully."

Meanwhile, four occupiers remained at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, demanding assurances they not be arrested.

The occupation by ranchers and others began on January 2 and at one point there were a two dozen people inside, demanding that the US government turn public lands over to local control.

But the compound has been emptying out since the arrest of Bundy and 10 others over the past few days, and with the death of Finicum.

Oregon Public Broadcasting spoke to the remaining occupiers - David Fry from Ohio, husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Idaho and Jeff Banta from Nevada. Fry told the station that Sean Anderson faced a federal arrest warrant.

All 11 people under arrest have been charged with conspiring to impede federal officers from carrying out their duties through force or intimidation. Three of the 11 were arrested on Wednesday night when they left the refuge.

Ammon Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a tense 2014 stand-off with the government over grazing rights.

The group came to the desert of eastern Oregon in the dead of winter to protest at what it calls onerous national land restrictions and to object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of starting fires.

In a criminal complaint, federal authorities said the armed group had explosives and night-vision goggles and was prepared to fight.

The charges against Bundy and others say the refuge's 16 employees had been prevented from reporting to work because of threats of violence.

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