BURNS, Ore. (Reuters) – As four armed anti-government protesters held their ground at a U.S. wildlife refuge in Oregon on Friday, the family of a protester killed by police said he seemed to have been shot in the back with his hands up, although authorities said he was reaching for a gun.
Relatives of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 54, a spokesman for the group that seized buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, said he posed no threat and they were not accepting the authorities’ assertion that he was armed.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released video on Thursday of state police fatally shooting Finicum, and contended it showed him making a move for a gun in his coat pocket.
“LaVoy was not ‘charging’ anyone. He appears to have been shot in the back, with his hands in the air,” the family of the Arizona rancher said in a statement through their attorney.
“At this point we will await the outcome of any investigation, but based on the information currently available to us, we do not believe that LaVoy’s shooting death was justified.”
Four armed protesters were still holed up on Friday at the remote refuge, 30 miles (48 km) from Burns, a small ranching community in the state’s rural southeast. The FBI says it is working “around the clock” to negotiate with the holdouts.
Ammon Bundy, who led the occupation that began on Jan. 2, was arrested on Tuesday along with other protesters including his brother, Ryan.
Bundy has issued messages through his attorney urging those who remain at the refuge to stand down, and saying they would continue to fight federal land policy through the courts.
Bundy and his brother Ryan were ordered held without bail pending trial on felony conspiracy charges, a U.S. District Court judge ruled on Friday.
“There are no conditions I could impose that would ensure the safety of the community. I’m worried about him occupying another government building,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman told the hearing in Portland.