By Lee Williams
Nowadays, the ATF operates above the law, and it’s become clear that despite their frequent high crimes and civil rights abuses, no one in the federal government is going to hold the agency accountable as long as Joe Biden occupies the White House.
But one Oklahoma state representative isn’t satisfied with waiting for the feds or anyone else to intervene. He’s got a plan to stop ATF’s illegal abuses right now, and unlike other loftier elected officials, he’s taking action, personally. He’s not just pontificating about the problem in front of a bank of microphones.
“The ATF is coming for our guns, and if we let them do this with no pushback, they will do it more,” said Oklahoma state Rep. Justin “JJ” Humphrey, (R-Lane).
A story published Tuesday revealed that Rep. Humphrey sent a letter to Oklahoma’s Governor, Attorney General, and other law enforcement officials demanding an investigation into the ATF raid on the home of one of his constituents, Russell Fincher, a parttime gun dealer, high school history teacher and Baptist pastor.
According to a press release, Humphrey said he was contacted by Fincher after a dozen ATF SWAT team members bearing “automatic weapons” raided Fincher’s home, handcuffed him on his porch in front of his 13-year-old son and coerced and threatened him into relinquishing his Federal Firearm License.
“If this report is true, and I have every reason to believe it is, then it would appear the ATF’s actions constitute a gross misuse and abuse of their federal police powers,” Humphrey said in the press release.
Fincher, Humphrey wrote in the letter, “is a distinguished figure in our community, serving both as pastor and schoolteacher in the small community of Clayton, Oklahoma. He is known as a respected member of the community, and I have every reason to believe his account. If proven true, the actions of the ATF agents could be seen as a severe misuse and abuse of their federal law enforcement authority.”
On Tuesday, Humphrey told the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project how he arrived at this decision.
“When I first got the call, I didn’t immediately call Russell back,” Humphrey said. “I called his neighbors who I know in the community and asked what kind of guy he is and what do you all know about him. I haven’t found a single person who had anything negative to say about this guy. You typically don’t see the pastor being the criminal. He’s also a history teacher. He’s got a degree. He’s got multiple incomes, including selling guns. I’ve done thousands of pre-sentence investigations, and I know how to find out info about people. If Russell had an ex-wife, I would have called her, too. All of my reference checks show that Russell Fincher is a real decent good guy.”
Humphrey is a no-nonsense elected official who thoroughly understands right from wrong. He’s a cattle rancher with a degree in Criminal Justice who spent 35 years in law enforcement, including 20 years as a probation and parole officer for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Humphrey is not the type of official to excuse the use of excessive force on one of his constituents.
“On the surface, it appears ATF abused their position, extorted Russell and it appears they used terroristic threats,” Humphrey said. “That alone more than warrants an investigation into these ATF officers. That’s what I’m asking for. The fact they’re officers doesn’t mean they can’t violate the law. If they used their badges to do it, it’s even worse.”
What we know
Humphrey hasn’t seen the affidavit for the search warrant ATF obtained before they raided Fincher’s home. Agents obtained the warrant from a magistrate, not a judge. He takes issue with how the warrant was executed, especially since Fincher invited the agents to his home.
“If you’re cooperative, do I show up 12 deep?” Humphrey asked. “Why did they do that?”
Agents found nothing illegal or even questionable during their search, he said. It was their second attempt to find something criminal on Fincher.
“They ran a confidential informant at him, to get him to illegally sell them a gun, which he refused to do,” Humphrey said. “How did they obtain their warrant? It seems pretty shaky. What did they tell the magistrate? What did they base their search warrant on? Did they illegally obtain their search warrant based on fraudulent info? That’s perjury and abuse of office. Those are the things we’re looking at.”
Humphrey took issue with how ATF agents intimidated Fincher into “voluntarily” surrendering his Federal Firearm License. Agents handcuffed Fincher on his porch in front of his 13-year-old son, while yelling and screaming about possible federal charges, until Fincher relented and said he’d self-terminate his FFL. One of the agents had three copies of the needed paperwork.
“This guy has on his person not one but three copies of termination paperwork?” Humphrey said. “This reveals their true intent.”
Humphrey knows a state-run criminal investigation could have a chilling effect on ATF’s misdeeds across the country. At the very least, it would force ATF Special Agent Theodore Mongell, who led the raid on Fincher’s home, to explain his probable cause under oath, as well as why he believed the pastor and his son were such a threat that ATF needed to hit their home with a heavily armed SWAT team. It would also force Agent Mongell to admit or deny the threats he reportedly made to other gun dealers.
“You tell all your FFL buddies we are coming for them. We are shutting the gun shows down,” Fincher recalled Mongell saying during the raid.
“This is terroristic threats, and I think these terroristic threats are really easy to prove,” Humphrey said. “They’re using their police powers to intimidate, extort and threaten.”
A GiveSendGo account has been created to help with Fincher’s legal fees.
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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.