Federal judge urges Finicum wrongful death lawsuit be limited to OSP
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge says a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the fatal shooting of a man who helped lead the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge can proceed against Oregon State Police, but allegations against other federal, state and local government entities should be tossed.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan recommended that allegations against the FBI, federal Bureau of Land Management, Oregon’s governor and Harney County should be thrown out of the lawsuit brought by the widow of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, The Oregonian reported.
A federal district judge now must decide whether to accept, reject or modify Sullivan’s recommendation.
Jeanette Finicum filed the lawsuit in connection with the fatal shooting of her 54-year-old husband. He was one of the leaders of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 by protesters who objected to what they said was federal overreach in the way the government managed public lands and grazing rights.
Finicum was shot in January 2016 by state police officers after he fled an attempted police stop while he and other occupation leaders were heading to a meeting in a neighboring county. Law enforcement officers used a roadblock to stop his vehicle, and police said Finicum had reached inside his jacket for a gun when he was shot.
Jeanette Finicum’s lawsuit contends he was shot “assassination-style” by improperly trained “militarized officers of the Oregon State Police and/or FBI” as he was trying to drive to the neighboring county to seek the protection of Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer.
Jeanette Finicum also said in the lawsuit that Gov. Kate Brown was also responsible for her husband’s death in part by authorizing the participation of state police and the police stop.
The magistrate judge rejected the allegations against Brown, noting that she didn’t participate in the encounter at the roadblock or the shooting.
The judge recommended that the other defendants be dismissed because she said they weren’t properly served with a court summons.
Lawyers for Jeanette Finicum have two weeks to object to the findings before a district judge makes a final ruling. One of Finicum’s attorneys, J. Morgan Philpot, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.