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SWAT team members: FBI shooter rules "crazy" at Ruby Ridge

October 14, 1995
Web posted at: 8:56 a.m. EDT

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- FBI SWAT team members told a Senate panel Friday that they were shocked by the "shoot-on-sight" rules in effect during the FBI's 11-day siege of white separatist Randy Weaver's cabin in 1992.

"My reaction is 'you've got to be kidding,'" agent Donald Kusulas told the committee. (315K AIFF sound or 315K WAV sound)

Agent Peter King said that his reaction was "that's crazy; that's ridiculous," and both men testified that they decided not to follow rules which allowed them to shoot on sight at any armed, adult male at the scene. (295K AIFF sound or 295K WAV sound)

The standard FBI rules calls for use of lethal force only for self-protection or if others are in imminent danger.

The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on terrorism is investigating the fatal stand-off at Weaver's home in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where Weaver's wife and son and a federal marshal were killed. Federal law enforcement agents had Weaver under surveillance in August 1992 because he had not appeared in court on a weapons charge.

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On August 22, an FBI sniper shot Vicki Weaver as she stood behind the door of the cabin with an infant daughter. Fourteen-year-old Sam Weaver and agent William Degan died the previous day during a gunfight that erupted when agents, young Weaver and family friend Kevin Harris clashed on the Weaver property. Agents testified that Sam Weaver may have been killed accidentally by Harris, and both Randy Weaver and Harris were found not guilty of Degan's death.

Subcommittee chairman Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) said Friday that he would call Attorney General Janet Reno to testify next week. Specter wants Reno to explain her approval of the promotion of Larry Potts to deputy FBI director earlier this year. Potts was subsequently demoted and suspended, pending a criminal investigation of an alleged cover-up of the FBI's actions during the Ruby Ridge incident.

In other testimony Friday, lab supervisor James Cadigan defended the FBI's crime lab for its work on evidence gathered after the stand-off. But members of the committee were sharply critical of Cadigan and the lab, citing complaints from the federal judge and government prosecutors in the case.

Specter said he hopes to conclude the hearings next week, following testimony by Reno, Potts and FBI director Louis Freeh.


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