Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Investigation of FBI agents involved in LaVoy Finicum shooting shocks justice community

It's drummed into every police officer and federal agent during training: They must report every time they discharge their gun on duty and justify each shot. So Tuesday's announcement that a member of the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team allegedly failed to disclose two gunshots fired at Robert "LaVoy" Finicum seemed inconceivable to former FBI agents and criminal justice experts. That the bullets missed their apparent target drew even more disbelief. One struck the roof of Finicum's truck and another missed Finicum and his pickup. "Here you have one of the best trained units in the FBI. They're only supposed to shoot when there's an active threat. You would hope they would be accurate in doing so,'' said Michael German, a 16-year veteran of the FBI who now serves as a national security expert and fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York University's School of Law. State police troopers fatally shot Finicum moments later when he reached for a gun in his pocket, according to the FBI and investigators led by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. Finicum was one of the top spokesmen for the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a bird sanctuary 30 miles southeast of Burns. Investigations are now underway to sort out what happened with the FBI shots. A special agent from the U.S. Department of Justice's Inspector General's Office, the FBI's Inspections Division and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office are examining whether the shots were justified and the reported failure to disclose them. Four other FBI Hostage Rescue Team agents are also under investigation.  An agent who doesn't report a shooting could face anything from serious discipline to demotion to a criminal charge, depending on what an investigation finds...more

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