DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE REPORT REGARDING INTERNAL INVESTIGATION OF SHOOTINGS AT RUBY RIDGE, IDAHO DURING ARREST OF RANDY WEAVER


* Released through LEXIS COUNSEL CONNECT. LEXIS COUNSEL CONNECT is a communications and information service for attorneys. LCC is managed by American Lawyer Media, L.P.


On Aug. 22, 1992, on a remote ridge in northern Idaho, a weeklong standoff between white supremacist Randy Weaver and federal agents ended in a shootout in which an FBI sniper shot and killed Weaver's wife, Vicky. The Ruby Ridge confrontation began a week earlier when federal marshals tried to arrest Weaver for failing to appear in court on weapons charges. At that time, a gun battle erupted between marshals and Weaver's 14-year-old son, resulting in the deaths of Weaver's son and a marshal.

The incident led to one of the most intensive internal reviews of an FBI investigation ever. Attorney General Janet Reno established a Justice Department task force to investigate the events at Ruby Ridge. The task force concluded in a 1994 report that the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team overreacted to the threat of violence and instituted a shoot-on-sight policy that violated bureau guidelines and Fourth Amendment restrictions on police power. The FBI disciplined 12 agents and employees, including Larry Potts, then the head of its criminal division and now its deputy director, for their roles in the operation.

The following document, which is contained in the attached files, is the full text of the task force's unreleased 542-page report, which was obtained by LEXIS COUNSEL CONNECT.

In the hard copy of this document, some material has been deleted and marked by the word "Garrity," apparently referring to U.S. Supreme Court opinion Garrity v. New Jersey (1967). Under Garrity, government employees must be granted immunity from criminal prosecution if they provide information during an administrative investigation.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

B. Significant Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

C. Significant Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

II.ORIGINS OF THE INVESTIGATION AND METHODOLOGY EMPLOYED 9

III. FACTUAL SUMMARY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..13

A. The U. S. Marshals Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

B. Federal Bureau of Investigation - Deployment of Hostage Rescue Team 16

C. Rules of Engagement and the Death of Vicki Weaver on August 22 16

D. The Prosecution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

IV. SPECIFIC ISSUES INVESTIGATED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

A. Investigation of Weaver by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms 21

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

2. Statement of Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

a. Early Law Enforcement Contact With Randy Weaver . 21

b. BATF Contact with Weaver . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

c. Sale of Weapons by Weaver to BATF Informant . . . 26

d. Delay in Obtaining Indictment and BATF Efforts to Enlist Weaver as an Informant . . 29

e. Arrest and Arraignment of Weaver on Weapons Charge 31

3. Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

a. The Decision of BATF to Target Weaver . . . . . . 32

b. Possible Entrapment by the BATF Informant . . . . 33

c. Delay in Obtaining indictment . . . . . . . . . .35

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35

B. The Failure of Weaver to Appear for Trial . . . . . . . 36

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

2. Statement of Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

a. January 18, 1991 Arraignment . . . . . . . . . . .36

b. Events Occurring From the Arraignment Through February 20,1991 38

(1) Communication With Weaver . . . . . . 38

(2) The "Queen of Babylon" Letters and the Threat Assessment by the U.S. Marshals Service 40

c. February 20, 1991 -- The Rescheduled Trial Date. . .44

d. Discovery of the Richins Letter and the Response of the Government 46

e. Decision to Present and Indictment to the Grand Jury 53

f. March 14, 1991 Indictment for Failure to Appear 55

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57

a. Government Knowledge of Erroneous Richins Letter Prior to February 20, 1991 57

b. Appropriateness of Governmental Response to the Richins Letter 57

c. Propriety of Seeking an Indictment on March 14, 1991 60

d. [G.J.] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61

4. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

C. Efforts by the Marshals Service to Effect the Arrest of Weaver 64

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64

2. Statement of Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64

a. Involvement of the Marshals Service Special Operations Group 64

b. SOG Reconnaissance and Recommendations . . . . .66

c. Additional Contacts With Intermediaries . . . . .70

d. Exchange of Surrender Teams . . . . . . . . . . .71

e. Post-Negotiation Investigation . . . . . . . . . 73

f. Briefing of the Marshals Service Director . . . .76

g. Development of Three Phase Operational Plan . . .77

(1) Phase I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77

(2) Phase II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

(3) Transition to Phase III . . . . . . . . . . .81

h. Delay in Implementing the Undercover Operation ..83

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

a. The Initial Response of the Marshals Service to Weaver's Failure to Appear 83

b. Consideration by Marshals Service of Alternatives to Secure the Arrest of Weaver 85

c. Pressure Exerted on Marshals Service to Arrest Weaver 88

(1) The Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

(2) The Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

(3) The U. S. Attorney's Office . . . . . . . . 91

d. Impact of Delay Pending Hudson Confirmation . . .94

4. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95

D. Marshals Service Activities Between August 17 and August 21, 1992 96

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96

2. Statement of Focus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96

a. Preparation for Surveillance . . . . . . . . . . 96

b. Trip of August 21, 1992 to Weaver Property. . . 99

c. Shooting at the Y . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

(1) Account of Cooper and Roderick . . . . . . 109

(2) The OP Team. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112

(3) Account of Weaver and Harris. . . . . . . . 113

d. Events Following the Gunfire. . . . . . . . . . 115

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117

a. Alleged Intent of the Marshals to Force a Confrontation with the Weavers 117

(1) The .9 mm Weapon . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118

(2) "Zeroing" the Weapons . . . . . . . . . . . 120

(3) Presence of a Medic on the Surveillance Team 120

(4) Tossing the Rocks. . . . . . . . . . . . . .121

(5) The Trip to the Lower Garden . . . . . . . .122

b. The Initiation of Gunfire At the Y . . . . . . .122

(1) Witness Accounts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

(2) Physical Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

(3) The First Shot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124

c. The Shooting of Sammy Weaver . . . . . . . . . .125

d. Allegation the Marshals Attempted to Cover up the Shooting of Sammy Weaver 126

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .127

E. Activation of FBI Hostage Rescue Team and SWAT Teams on August 21, 1992 and Initial Intelligence Gathering 128

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128

2. Statement of Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128

a. The Marshals' Report of the Shooting. . . . . . 128

b. Decision to Deploy the HRT. . . . . . . . . . . 132

c. Initial Intelligence Gathering and Rescue of the Marshals 138

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .148

a. The Marshals' Report of the Shooting . . . . . .148

b. Decision to Deploy the HRT. . . . . . . . . . . 150

c. Initial Intelligence Gathering . . . . . . . . .151

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .154

F. FBI's Rules of Engagement and Operations on August 21 and August 22, 1992 155

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155

2. Statement of Facts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .156

a. The Formulation of Rules of Engagement En Route to Idaho on August 21, 1992 156

b. Formulation of the Rules of Engagement and Operations Plan on August 22 163

c. Interpretation of Rules of Engagement by Law Enforcement Personnel 173

d. Deployment of FBI, HRT, SWAT, and U.S. Marshals Services SOG Personnel at Ruby Ridge 184

e. Use of the Helicopter . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187

f. Placement of HRT Sniper/Observers in Area Surrounding the Weaver Cabin 188

g. Circumstances Involving the Two Rifle Shots Taken by HRT member Lon Horiuchi 189

(1) The First Shot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189

(2) The Second Shot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194

h. Initial Surrender Announcement . . . . . . . . .199

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .200

a. FBI Rules of Engagement . . . . . . . . . . . . 200

(1) Factors Considered in the Formulation of the Rules of Engagement 200

(2) Approval of the Rules of Engagement. . . . .201

(3) The FBI Standard Policy on the Use of Deadly Force and the Constitutionality of the Rules of Engagement 205

b. Initial Deployment of Law Enforcement Personnel to Ruby Ridge 209

c. The HRT Rifle Shots Fired on August 22, 1992 . .211

(1) The Applicable Standard for Review. . . . . 211

(2) The First Shot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .214

(3) The Second Shot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218

(4) Use of the Helicopter to Draw Subjects out of Cabin 225

(5) Surrender Announcement . . . . . . . . .. . 226

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .228

G. FBI Internal Review of HRT Shots Taken on August 22, 1992 229

[OMITTED]

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .229

2. Statement of Facts. . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . .229

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .230

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .232

H. Law Enforcement Operations at Ruby Ridge From August 22,1992 Until August 31, 1992 233

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233

2. Statement of Facts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233

a. Removal of Law Enforcement Personnel From the Mountain Following Horiuchi's Shots 233

b. Command and Control Structure. . . . . . . . . .234

c. Tactical Operations and Discovery of Sammy Weaver's Body 238

d. Change from Rules of Engagement to the FBI Standard Deadly Force Policy 240

e. Evidence of Vicki Weaver's Death. . . . . . . . 242

f. Initial Steps Toward Negotiation. . . . . . . . 244

g. Continuing Efforts of the FBI Hostage Negotiators 246

h. Efforts of Nongovernmental Negotiations . . . . 248

i. Decisions to Send Howen to Ruby Ridge. . . . . .252

j. Howen's Activities at Ruby Ridge. . . . . . . . 253

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258

a. FBI Decision to Remove Law Enforcement Personnel From the Mountain on Saturday Night 258

b. Effectiveness of FBI Control and Command of the Crisis Site 260

c. FBI Attempts to Resolve the Crisis . . . . . . .261

(1) Factors Hindering Negotiations. . . . . . . 261

(2) Balance of Tactical and Negotiation Strategies 263

d. Evidence of Vicki Weaver's Death. . . . . . . . 266

e. Howen's Activities at Ruby Ridge. . . . . . . . 267

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .268

I. FBI Crime Scene Investigation. . . . . . . . . . . . .269

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .269

2. Statement of Facts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .269

a. Background. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269

b. Method of Searching the Y Crime Scene. . . . . .271

(1) Triangulation Not Utilized. . . . . . . . . 274

(2) The "Magic" Bullet. . . . . . . . . . . . . 274

c. Investigation by the FBI's Shooting Incident Review Team 276

d. Searches of the Cabin and Surrounding Area. . . 277

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .280

a. Techniques Employed to Locate Evidence. . . . . 280

b. Techniques Used to Record the Location of Evidence 281

c. The "Magic Bullet" and Allegations of Staged Evidence 282

d. Erroneous FBI Diagram of Sniper/Observer Position 283

e. Erroneous Diagram of the Y. . . . . . . . . . . 283

f. Jackie Brown and Cabin Clean Up. . . . . . . . .283

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .286

J. The FBI Laboratory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 286

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .286

2. Statement of Facts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .286

a. FBI Laboratory Processing Procedure. . . . . . .286

b. Timeliness and Neglected Tests. . . . . . . . . 287

(1) Degan's Backpack. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 289

(2) Blood and Hair Examinations. . . . . . . . .289

c. Refusal to Perform Tests and Hiring of Independent Experts 292

(1) Refusal to Conduct Test. . . . . . . . . . .292

(2) Shooting Reconstruction. . . . . . . . . . .292

(3) Wound Ballistics and Metal Detection . . . .294

(4) Acoustic Testing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294

d. Failure to Comply with Discovery. . . . . . . . 295

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .296

a. Problems with Delays in Test Results. . . . . . 296

b. Failure to Provide Expertise and the Hiring of Independent Experts 299

c. Discovery Demand for Test Firings and Laboratory Notes 300

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301

K. The Preliminary Hearings of Weaver and Harris. . . . .301

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .301

2. Statement of Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 302

a. Arrest and Initial Processing of Weaver and Harris 302

b. September 10-11, 1992 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304

c. [G.J.]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 308

(1) [G.J.]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 308

(2) Beginning of the Harris Preliminary Hearing.309

d. September 16, 1992. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311

(1) [G.J.]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311

(2) Harris Preliminary Hearing. . . . . . . . . 312

(3) Weaver Preliminary Hearing. . . . . . . . . 315

e. September 17, 1992. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 316

f. Subsequent Defense Challenges. . . . . . . . . .317

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .319

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .324

L. Scope of the Indictment and Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct Before the Grand Jury 325

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .325

2. Statement of Facts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .326

a. Scope of the Indictment: The Conspiracy Count. .326

b. Evidential Support for Certain Overt Acts and Substantive Offenses 331

c. [G.J.]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333

d. [G.J.]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337

e. [G.J.]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 352

f. Decision to Seek the Death Penalty. . . . . . . 356

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .359

a. Scope of the Indictment: The Conspiracy Count. .359

b. [G.J.]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 366

c. [G.J.]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 373

d. Decision to Seek the Death Penalty. . . . . . . 375

4. Conclusion 377

M. Alleged Problems with the FBI's Participation and Cooperation in the Discovery Process 378

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .378

2. Statement of Facts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .379

a. Defining the Scope of Discovery. . . . . . . . . .379

b. The FBI Response to Discovery Demands. . . . . . .381

c. Attempts to Resolve the Discovery Disputes. . . . 385

(1) Documents at Issue. . . . . . . . . . .385

(2) Negotiations Among the Parties. . . . 388

d. The Defense Subpoena Deuces Tecum For the Shooting Incident Report 394

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .402

a. FBI Resistance to USAO Discovery Requests. . . .402

b. Problems With Producing the Complete Shooting Incident Report and Supporting Materials 407

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .413

N. Alleged Problems With the Participation of the FBI in Case Preparation and Its Relationship With Other Members of the Trial Preparation Team 415

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .415

2. Statement of Facts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .415

a. Defining the Structure of the Trial Team and the Role and Responsibilities of the Individual Members 415

(1) The Lead Agency Concept and the Initial Disagreement Regarding the Interviewing of Witnesses in Iowa 415

(2) The Decision to Assign Members of the Marshals Service and BATF to Assist in Case Preparation 420

(3) The First Team Meeting. . . . . . . . 426

b. Specific Problems in Case Preparation Interviews Conducted by the Marshals Service and BATF Agents 427

(1) Interviews Conducted by the Marshals Service and BATF Agents 427

(2) Acoustical Test. . . . . . . . . . . . 433

(3) Cooperation and Trust Among Trial Team Members 434

(i) Historical Problems in the Working Relationship Between the USAO andthe FBI 437

(ii) Problems in the Working Relationship Among Team Members 439

(4) Attempts to Interview FBI Officials at Headquarters 445

3. Discussion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .448

a. Decision to Have the Marshals Service and BATF Assist in Case Preparation 448

b. The Iowa Interviews and the Failure to Document the Results 449

c. Acoustical Experiment at Ruby Ridge. . . . . . . .451

d. Attempts to Interview FBI Officials. . . . . . . .453

e. Relationship Among the Investigative Team. . . . .454

4. Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .455

O. Alleged Failure of USAO to Notify the Defense of Brady Material and Other Important Information 456

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .456

2. Statement of Facts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .456

a. Defense Subpoenas for FBI and Marshals Service Manuals and Personnel Files 456

b. Financial Compensation of Informant Fadeley . . 466

c. Late Production of the Calley Notes . . . . . . 473

d. Neal Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .477

e. The L-1 Bullet and L Bullet Photographs . . . . 482

f. The Late Production of the Shooting Incident Report and Supporting Materials and the October 26, 1993 Court Order 488

3. Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 491

a. Response of the Government to the Defense Subpoenas for FBI and Marshals Service Manuals and Personnel Files 456

b. Failure to Disclose Financial Compensation Arrangement with Informant Fadeley

c. Late Production of the Calley Notes . . . . . . 473

d. Late Disclosure of the Neal Interview. . . . . .477

e. The L Bullet Photographs . . . . . . . . . . . .482

4. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 503

V. RECOMMENDATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 505

VI. CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 509

VII. IDENTIFICATION OF PARTICIPANTS . . . . . . . . . . . .528


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