The Quest for Public Records, Part II. State Police Reports. (July 13, 2021)

On May 20 I wrote an essay on my efforts to get public records from the Oregon State Police and the FBI.  I’ve had now, some success with the State Police.  On July 6 they sent me the two reports (93 pages) that I got for a $250 fee.  One is devoted mostly to small crimes associated with the takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge (taking down a barbed-wire fence, removing security cameras and the like.)  There isn’t much there that wasn’t widely reported by the news, or even announced by the occupiers themselves.

The other is devoted specifically to the shooting of LaVoy Finicum, one of the occupiers of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.  He drove away from the traffic stop where the first attempt was made to arrest him, but then came across a backup roadblock a mile up the road.  It was there that he was shot to death by two Oregon State Police.  The details of that shooting are what I am currently working on, and why I wanted the Oregon State Police reports.

The file is curious in several ways.  First, it does not name the officers involved in the shooting and arrests, perhaps because the official investigation was done by the Deschutes County Sheriffs Office. It is standard procedure when an officer shoots someone for the investigation of that shooting to be done by another agency. I suppose this is to lessen conflict of interest.  The reports from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office use Officer 1, 2, 3 as a way to protect (some would say hide) the identity of officers involved in a fatal shooting.  I think it is a reasonable precaution to take in this case, with militia groups and various people upset about the shooting, and possibly thinking of revenge.  At the same time, it makes me uneasy.  Two state police shoot someone, and the public aren’t told who their names. As it turns out, one was accidently ‘outed’ at a trial when another officer giving testimony forgot to use the “Officer 1” name and just called him by name. The name of the other officer has remained hidden from the public.

Oddly, though, these reports, written by the State Police officers who photographed the scene of the shooting, gathering up material from the people arrested, inventorying the stuff they had with them (cell phones, guns, cash) but even these officers are ‘anonymized’ in that they are called “Officer 1”, “Officer G” etc.  They did things I don’t think anyone would get particularly upset about- such as accompanying the body of Finicum to the autopsy.  Why is that name anonymized?

So of course, more questions to try and find the answers to.  

If you want to read through the recently obtained pages on the investigation of Finicum’s shooting, you can find them at

All the primary material I have posted so far can be found on the “Wildfire” page of


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