Weaver Awarded $3.1 Million from US Government

The following was pieced together from printed reports of Ruby Ridge, a Prime Time Live show detailing the events of Ruby Ridge, and the Weaver and Harris transcripts of the trial.

While admitting no wrong, the US Government settled suits filed by the Weaver family over the killing of his 14 year old son and his wife by federal law enforcement officials at Ruby Ridge in Northern Idaho. The payment settles claims filed by Weaver and his two daughters. The original claims totaled $200 million. The Justice Department released a statement on the day they agreed to the settlement that said in part: "The settlement reflects the loss to the Weaver children of their mother and brother. By entering into a settlement, the United States hopes to take a substantial step toward healing the wounds the incident inflicted."

How it Started

Weaver had been approached by an informant to the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) to sell him sawed off shot-guns. Weaver apparently relented after several times telling the informant no. He sold two shot-guns to the informant in October of 1989. The shot guns sold to the informant according to the FBI were a mere 1/4" short of the legal barrel length for shot-guns. Weaver contends they were perfectly legal at the time he sold them to the informant.

Weaver was given bogus information on when to appear in court on the weapons charges. Rather than correcting the error, the Federal officials declared him a fugitive.

However, a Federal Judge ruled after the siege at Ruby Ridge that the weapons charges amounted to entrapment by the FBI. Weaver had been sent erroneous information on when to appear for his court date - in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt by Federal authorities to initiate the confrontation. It would have been a simple matter to correct the error and give Mr. Weaver another chance to appear. That in part is why the Federal Judge ruled the gun charges amounted to entrapment.

Then it Happened: All Hell broke Loose

On August 21st, 1992, deputy marshals botched a surveillance attempt after entering the Weaver property in fatigues and facial camo. They were armed with night vision devices and fully automatic "assault" weapons. Their orders were to shoot the family dog as the dog would make it difficult to continue their surveillance. The family dog caught wind of the intruders and was shot by one of the marshals (according to published reports, that Marshall was Art Roderick).

Weaver's son Sammy fired back with his Mini-14 rifle. Randy Weaver was shooting his shotgun into the air and screaming for Sammy to return to the cabin. As Sammy turned to run, he was shot in the back and with a 9mm slug that ripped through his arm nearly severing it from his body. It was then that Harris returned fire apparently killing the U.S. Marshall. The FBI were called to the scene the next day.

That day (August 22nd) an FBI sharpshooter shot Weaver's wife Vicki as she stood with an infant in her arms in the doorway of her cabin. The sharpshooter had contended (up until the time Congressional and Senate hearings began) that he had been aiming at an armed man (later said to be Harris) who was threatening a helicopter. That same sharpshooter is now invoking the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination as he took the stand last week in the Senate hearings on Ruby Ridge.

Randy Weaver had originally gone outside his cabin to a shed which held the body of his now dead son Sammy. As he was opening the shed, sharpshooter Lon Horiuchi shoot Weaver in the right shoulder. Vicki Weaver went to the door cradling their 10 month old in one arm as she held the door open for Harris, Weaver and daughter to hurry through and take cover. The second shot shattered the window hitting Vicki in the throat. The bullet passed through her face and wounded Harris.

Subsequent testimony at the Weaver trial about the days that followed the shooting of Vicki and Sammy is even more disturbing. It was disclosed that the FBI would taunt Weaver, knowing that his wife and son were dead, by blasting a loud speaker towards the cabin with sayings such as "Good morning Mrs. Weaver - we're having pancakes, what are you having for breakfast?"

Shoot to Kill

The rules of engagement were also changed the night before by FBI commanders. The new rules instructed FBI sharpshooters in part that they "could and should" use deadly force against any armed male spotted in the open. The standard rules of engagement for the FBI are such that they can only use deadly force in situations to protect themselves or the lives of innocent people. Originally, the FBI concluded that its own sharpshooter had followed the standard procedures and not the modified rules of engagement handed down at Ruby Ridge.

Now the FBI states that they suspect the original Justice Department report contained false statements and is flawed by a document being destroyed.

Twelve FBI officials were originally disciplined including Larry Potts who was promoted earlier in the year to be 2nd in command of the FBI under its director Louis Freeh. But the discipline Potts received was nothing more than a censure or reprimand over the incident (the same he received when he lost a cellular phone that belonged to the agency). Potts along with five others (including the sharpshooter) are now on suspension from the bureau until the Justice Department concludes its investigation.

The government tried Randy Weaver and Harris on conspiracy and murder charges. They were acquitted on all counts. Weaver was convicted of failing to appear for trail on an earlier weapons charge and did serve a prison term.

The Senate hearings on Ruby Ridge continue as does the Justice Department Investigation.

Editorial Comment

What bothers me the most about the Ruby Ridge affair is the cavalier attitude our high government officials have towards the abuse of power of in this case. Lost documents, altered rules of engagement, an FBI official in charge at Ruby Ridge (Larry Potts) being promoted, and now the FBI sniper taking the Fifth so as not to incriminate himself.

Originally, when this all started to surface, we heard that Randy Weaver was not a nice man. He was a "white separatist". A label that is still used by the media whenever his name is mentioned. His political views, and his personal views on who he wants to associate with should not be on trial here!

Part of living in a free society is to be politically incorrect. That is what freedom is all about. But you don't shoot someone because their view of the world is different than yours and mine. What appears to have happened here is that the BATF, failing to get Weaver to sell illegal firearms, may well have manufactured their 1/4" short barrel story in order to entrap Weaver. At least one Federal Judge thought the entire weapons charges to be bogus enough to declare Weaver was indeed entrapped by the government.

After the shootout that kills Weaver's wife and son, the government continues its persecution of Weaver and Harris with a trial in which they were acquitted of all charges.

I personally know FBI officials (in fact my nephew works for the Bureau) and like all groups of people, the majority are fine Americans I would be proud to have as friends and neighbors. However when absolute power corrupts, it corrupts absolutely! In these cases I firmly believe it is the attitudes of the likes of Potts, Reno and other ranking officials in these departments that transmits the wrong messages to the troops! In this case they went so far as to rewrite the rules of engagement with what amounted to a shoot to kill order.

Even as a soldier (which FBI operatives are not), you have a moral obligation to say no to orders you know to be unconstitutional or illegal. You may not like what happens to you and your career, but there is a higher calling everyone must answer to than his or her career. But when their commanders and role models are in so much need of repair, Ruby Ridge and Waco are the shadowy outcomes that result.

Stay tuned to the hearings on this affair. It seems rather strange that the ones who are calling for more federal power and more agencies to carry weapons are also the strongest opponents to firearm ownership by the general populace. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Gary Shade

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