FBI Agent Indicted For Cover-Up In Shooting Of Oregon Militiaman
00:11, Jul 1, 2017
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"The fact that the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in and investigated one of their own and said, "You can't obstruct justice, you're not above the law" sends a very positive message, '" said attorney Brian Claypool, according to The Oregonian.
On Jan. 26, 2016, at least five members of the FBI's elite hostage rescue team (HRT) assisted during the attempted arrest of Arizona rancher Robert "LaVoy" Finicum and other occupation leaders along a remote stretch of OR highway between Burns and John Day.
The FBI agent, a member of the agency's Hostage Rescue Team, also denied firing his weapon to Oregon State Police on the day of the shooting, and then again a month later when investigators interviewed him to follow up on the case, prosecutors allege.
On Jan. 26, 2016, Finicum, a spokesman for the group who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, swerved his truck into a snowbank - almost hitting an FBI Hostage Rescue Team member - to avoid a roadblock on US 395 in Oregon.
The indictment notes that Astarita "falsely stated he had not fired his weapon during the attempted arrest of Robert La Voy Finicum, when he knew then and there that he had fired his weapon". He was, however, released, on personal recognizance due to his trial August 29. Finicum's family members have accused law enforcement of covering up the circumstances surrounding his death.
Six rounds were fired by the state troopers and two by the FBI, the investigators found.
Finicum was traveling in a convoy with milita leaders, the brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, to a community meeting.
Six shots fired by OSP officers, including three that struck Finicum, were determined to be justified by investigators from Malheur and Deschutes counties.
Finicum was driving his pickup truck, carrying other Bundy occupiers, when he sped away from a traffic stop on the rural US 395 highway.
The FBI, seeking to dispel questions about Finicum's death in January 2016, quickly released video showing the shooting.
"Of particular concern to all of us is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation operators did not disclose their shots to our investigators, nor did they disclose specific actions they took after the shooting", Deschutes County Sheriff L. Shane Nelson said at a news conference last March, without specifying to which actions he was referring.
He was not immediately identified pending a federal court appearance Wednesday in Portland.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Nelson said he was disappointed Astarita and other FBI agents weren't put on administrative leave during the investigation. Investigators said the killing was justified, but also said Astarita did not disclose that he fired two shots.
Video of the shooting, however, appears to show Finicum reaching multiple times to his side before being shot.
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