FBI and Oregon Police Killed a Political Dissident - by Tim Baldwin
Tim Baldwin is a son of Chuck Baldwin, and I know him personally. We don't always agree, but this time I think he got it right BIG TIME.
As an introduction to my thoughts on Lavoy Finnicum's killing in Burns, Oregon, consider my article published in the Flathead Beacon's Two For Thought weekly Opinion section:
The FBI and Oregon police killed a rancher, Lavoy Finicum, last week. Lavoy joined Ammon Bundy, among others, for three weeks in occupying a refuge on public lands in Burns. Like many Americans, the occupiers believed BLM had been long abusing power. Police released one video of the incident (but not other pertinent surveillance). Was this killing lawful?
Under the Fourth Amendment, police who use deadly force have a burden to prove their actions were objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them based on the totality of the circumstances.
Regardless of one’s view of the occupation, the video raises issues regarding police’ actions: (1) Why block the highway in nowhere-ville? (2) Why use snipers and a dozen-plus officers? (3) Why not use spike strips to stop him? (4) When exactly was Lavoy likely to harm police?—when shot, Lavoy was facing no police, could barely walk in deep snow and held no gun. (5) Lavoy had not just committed a dangerous felony and fleeing therefrom. (6) Police had prior opportunities to serve an arrest warrant in a safe manner. (7) Why immediately rush Lavoy and spark conflict rather than contain the area and determine his actions?
The occupiers did not convince the greater part of society to aid them, given their seeming “state of war” approach. Still, if our laws can condemn Lavoy, they can also condemn police.
In fairness, there are some who are not normally forgiving to government abuse but believe police were justified in killing Lavoy: one such notable viewpoint on this incident is my dad, Chuck Baldwin. I, on the other hand, believe the video suggests that police were not justified in killing Lavoy when they did--even assuming he had a pistol inside his jacket and was reaching for it.