FBI Agent Charged Over LaVoy Finicum Shooting In Oregon
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Jul 01, 2017,
Jul 01, 2017, 0:12
An FBI agent assigned to the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in OR past year is facing a five-count indictment for allegedly lying about his role in the shooting death of one of the occupiers.
The indictment stems from a U.S. Justice Department investigation.
Neither round struck Finicum, who was fatally shot by OSP officers after refusing to stop his vehicle and attempting to run a roadblock on Highway 395 between John Day and Burns Jan. 26, 2016.
U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams stressed that the indictment did not affect the outcome of the investigation led by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, which found that the shooting was justified.
Astarita faces five charges, ranging from making false statements to obstruction of justice. The indictment also charges Astarita with two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly misleading Oregon State Police officers about the two rounds.
Astarita is scheduled to have a jury trial on August 29.
Astarita did not speak in court Wednesday, and is now on pre-trial release. Its members have maintained that Finicum was murdered, and his death has become a rallying cry.
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The legal system long ago decided that the actual killing of Finicum was justified.
The refuge took a violent turn on January 26 when Bundy and other key figures were arrested in on January 26 traffic stop outside the refuge that ended with police fatally shooting Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, 54, an Arizona rancher and an occupation spokesman. Oregon State Police troopers shot and killed Finicum at that point. OR investigators, however, concluded that one agent fired twice at the truck, hitting it once in the roof and missing on the second shot.
"The actions of the FBI (Hostage Rescue Team) in this case damage the integrity of the entire law enforcement profession, which makes me both disappointed and angry", said Deshutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson at a press conference on Wednesday.
"I don't know that they've ever been put on administrative leave", Nelson said in an interview Thursday.
On Jan. 2, 2016, Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, who was known for the 2014 Bundy standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., and six co-defendants seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and occupied it for 41 days.
W. Joseph Astarita appeared in federal court in Portland before federal Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart on Wednesday. The FBI said Finicum was shot after he tried to elude police and reached for a gun.
The FBI and investigating law enforcement agencies have declined to identify the other four agents who were on the scene. Authorities said the only person who could have fired those shots - based on an analysis of surveillance videos and photographs - was one of the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. A dishonest agent would be "eaten alive" by the defense, he said.