Another “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative has been debunked. Following the shooting of Oregon protester LaVoy Finicum, the FBI has released helicopter footage of the incident. I’m embedding it below. To see the events leading to the shooting itself, fast-forward to the 5:40 mark:
First, we should be grateful the incident wasn’t much worse. Finicum comes very close to hitting an officer with his SUV, and if he had, then the chances that law enforcement would have opened fire on the SUV increase greatly.
Second, while Finicum comes out of the SUV with his hands up, he clearly reaches into his clothing. When police know or suspect you’re armed, the absolute worst thing you can do is reach inside your clothing. If you do, you’re asking to die. In fact, the act is so reckless that it seems like Finicum might have committed “suicide by cop.”
Third, without video I could see how witnesses in the SUV would absolutely think that Finicum was shot with his hands in the air. His hands were up when he left the SUV, and if they looked away just for an instant as they were concerned for their own safety, they would have missed the fatal moment. Their entire memory of the incident would have included Finicum’s hands in the air, the gunshot, and then Finicum on the ground. The lesson? While video obviously can’t clear up all ambiguities, video is incredibly valuable.
Finally, I was impressed overall with the FBI’s restraint throughout the standoff. They learned valuable lessons from Ruby Ridge and Waco, and rather than assaulting the compound, they wisely chose to arrest the leaders when they were away and far more vulnerable. Those who were urging an armed assault on the compound were ;bloodthirsty lunatics, hoping to score political points over the dead bodies of their fellow citizens.
The incident is sad all around. The federal government treated Steven and Dwight Hammond so unjustly that civil disobedience was entirely justified. But through their grandiose demands and absurd threats, the Bundy brothers and their supporters essentially hijacked the cause. True civil disobedience requires a clear commitment to nonviolence, and absent that commitment, people not only die, but the justice of the cause is ultimately lost.