Press Release Regarding Charges Filed Against Lon Horiuchi

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Following the filing of a state complaint against FBI agent Lon Horiuchi in Idaho today, the Justice Department said it will continue to pay for his legal representation. The Department also explained that when examining Horiuchi's conduct, federal prosecutors and Idaho prosecutors enforce different criminal laws, using different legal standards.

Horiuchi was a member of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team involved in the August 1992, standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Since his 1995 appearance before Congress, and his involvement in a civil case, Horiuchi has received legal representation paid for by the Justice Department.

On August 21, 1992, Deputy United States Marshal William Degan and Samuel Weaver were killed at Ruby Ridge, during a confrontation between the Marshals Service and Randall Weaver, Samuel Weaver, and Kevin Harris. The following day, Horiuchi fired two shots. The first shot struck and wounded Randall Weaver. The second shot struck both Vicki Weaver and Harris, killing Vicki Weaver instantly and wounding Harris. A stand-off between law enforcement and the occupants of the Weaver family cabin ultimately resulted in the surrender of Randall Weaver and Kevin Harris to the FBI.


The complaint against Horiuchi, unsealed today in an Idaho state court, accompanied a separate charge against Kevin Harris, who allegedly fatally shot Marshal Degan. In the state case, Idaho Boundary County prosecutor, Denise Woodbury, charged Horiuchi under Idaho's involuntary manslaughter statute, which makes it a crime to use a firearm recklessly, carelessly, or negligently.

A different showing is required to prove a violation under federal law, which contains different standards than state law. A federal criminal investigation that concluded last week did not address the same issue as the state investigation, because no federal crime covers the reckless, careless, or negligent use of a firearm. The federal investigation, which involved hundreds of interviews and hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, concluded that the available evidence did not support a federal criminal prosecution of Horiuchi.

The federal criminal investigation considered whether Agent Horiuchi violated federal civil rights law, and found that the critical element of willfulness necessary for a federal civil rights violation could not be established beyond a reasonable doubt. Such willfulness -- defined as knowing, intentional use of unreasonable force -- could not be made out against Horiuchi.

In addition, the Idaho prosecutor's decision to charge Kevin Harris, alone, for the death of William Degan during the August 21, 1995, confrontation, is consistent with the federal criminal investigation's conclusion that the United States Marshals on the scene should not be the subject of federal prosecutions for their actions at Ruby Ridge.

The Department also indicated last week that the findings of the federal criminal investigation were being furnished to the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, which is considering what, if any, disciplinary sanctions should be imposed.

The Justice Department and the FBI will continue to cooperate with Idaho law enforcement officials in their investigation.