Lon Horiuchi, the FBI sniper who, following the FBI's
Revised Rules of Engagement, shot and killed Vicki Weaver
The FBI's Standard Rules of Engagement:
|Agents are not to use
deadly force against any person except as necessary in self-defense or
the defense of another when they have reason to believe they or another
are in danger of death or grievous bodily hard. Whenever
feasible, verbal warning should be given before deadly force is applied.
Revised Rules of Engagement, Assumed in Force at Ruby Ridge:
any adult male is observed with a weapon prior to the announcement, deadly
force can and should be employed, if the shot can be taken
without endangering any children.
2. If any adult in
the compound is observed with a weapon after the surrender announcement
is made, and is not attempting to surrender, deadly force can and
should be employed to neutralize the individual.
3. If compromised by any animal,
particularly the dogs, that animal should be eliminated.
subjects other than Randall Weaver, Vicki Weaver, Kevin Harris,
presenting threats of death or grievous bodily harm, the FBI rules of
deadly force are in effect. Deadly force can be utilized to prevent the
death or grievous bodily injury to oneself or that of another.
Notes on the Revision Process and Its
officials in Washington first discussed revising the standard rules of
engagement on August 21, 1992, hours after the killing of marshal
William Degan. Larry Potts, head of the FBI's criminal division
and his deputy, Danny Coulson, believed that Degan had been shot in an
unprovoked attack and that other agents were still pinned-down by fire
from the Weaver cabin (this latter belief was mistaken). Potts
and Coulter thought that the extremely dangerous situation at Ruby
Ridge called for a change in the rules to allow snipers to shoot at the
Weavers without provocation.
2. The FBI's legal advisor, asked about the legality of proposed
revision, said that it would depend upon a showing that the revision
was necessary to bring the situation under control and protect innocent
people from serious injuries. He also stated that any final
decision to revise the rule was have to depend upon an appraisal of the
situation by FBI officials in Idaho. Moreover, he said, no
shooting could occur until after a demand had been made for Weaver's
3. On board an FBI jet to Idaho on the night of August 21,
Richard Rogers, head of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, drafted revised
rules that allowed the shooting of "any adult seen with a
weapon." Such an individual "could
be the subject of deadly force." Called on the phone in
Washington, Potts gave preliminary approval to the revision, but said
that they would have to be submitted in writing before final approval.
4. On August 22, in the Bonner's Ferrry Armory, Richard Rogers
briefed Hostage Rescue Team members about the operation. He told
the HRT that if the adults in the Weaver cabin failed to respond to a
surrender command and are seen carrying a weapon, "deadly force can be used to neutralize them."
5. In preparing to send snipers into the hills around the Weaver
cabin, Richard Rogers made a final change in the proposed revised rules
of engagement: "deadly force can be employed" was changed to
"deadly force can and should be
employed." The operational plan, including the revised rules of
engagement, was faxed to Washington on the afternoon of August 22 for
final approval. Danny Coulson in Washington objected to the
operations plan with respect to its discussion of negotiations.
Revisions of that aspect of the plan were made and then Coulson
approved the overall plan. Later, no one at the FBI headquarters
would admit actually reviewing the final revised rules of engagement,
even though it was part of the operational plan that had been
6. A Department of Justice Task Force in 1994 reached the
following conclusion about the Revised Rules of Engagement at Ruby
"Our review found numerous
problems with the conduct of the FBI at Ruby
Ridge. Although we concluded that the decision to deploy the HRT to
Ridge was appropriate and consistent with Department policy, we do not
believe that the FBI's initial attempts at intelligence gathering at
scene were sufficiently thorough. We also found serious problems with
the terms of the Rules of Engagement in force at Ruby Ridge. Certain
portions of these Rules not only departed from the FBI's standard
force policy but also contravened the Constitution of the United
In addition, we found these Rules to be imprecise and believe that they
may have created anatmosphere that encouraged the use of deadly force
thereby having the effect of contributing to an unintentional death."