The Oregon House overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday that would shield the identity of the officer who shot and killed Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, and potentially others, despite cross-ideological opposition from both Finicum supporters and Black Lives Matter.
The 55-3 House vote came in response to threats against the Oregon State Police officer, whose name has yet to be released pending an investigation.
“This bill is deadly serious,” said Democratic state Rep. Jeff Barker during Wednesday’s floor debate as reported by the Oregonian. “This isn’t to protect a wrongdoer. It isn’t to protect a police department that screwed up.”
Black Lives Matter Portland joined Mr. Fincium’s backers in urging a “no” vote on House Bill 4087.
“The passing of this bill would be a major blow to police accountability in the state of Oregon. We CANNOT allow this to go unchallenged,” said the Tuesday post on the group’s Facebook page.
Some supporters of Mr. Finicum have insisted that he was “assassinated” or “murdered” after his vehicle was stopped Jan. 26 at an FBI roadblock on Highway 395.
Mr. Barker, who amended the bill last week in committee, said he worried about “whack jobs” who were “demanding to know the name of the officer that killed LaVoy.”
The bill would allow a judge to withhold for 90 days the identity of an officer involved in the use of deadly force in the event of a “credible threat of danger.”
Mr. Finicum’s allies at the Facebook page Oregon Wide Open said the bill would set a troubling precedent and reduce police transparency.
“So all you ‘WHACK JOBS’ who simply want to know who killed a man without provocation of any kind, you have a very short window to let your state representative know your vote resides with him or her only if they don’t sign off on this nonsense,” said the post. “This is unprecedented and will set a lasting standard of unaccountably if allowed to happen.”
Twenty-five people have been indicted in the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, which ended Thursday with the surrender of the final four occupiers.
On Tuesday, a judge ordered Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy to be held without bail, saying he was a flight risk and danger to the community. He has been charged with multiple offenses in connection to his 2014 stand-off with federal agents at his ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada.
He was arrested Thursday after flying to Portland in support of the occupiers. His sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy are also being held in Portland for their role in leading the refuge protest.
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