Society

FBI Agent Charged Over LaVoy Finicum Shooting In Oregon (Video)

| by Michael Allen
LaVoy FinicumLaVoy Finicum

An FBI agent was charged on June 27 for allegedly lying about firing gunshots at Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, who was killed on Jan. 26, 2016, in Oregon (video below).

Finicum was one of the participants in the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that was led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy.

FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita pleaded not guilty to five felony charges, reports The Associated Press.

The charges include three counts of making false statements to FBI supervisors and two counts of obstruction of justice for misleading the Oregon State Police.

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Astarita was released on his own recognizance, but is scheduled to go on trial on Aug. 2.

The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating the shooting of Finicum for over a year, notes The Oregonian.

Finicum was driving his pickup truck, carrying other Bundy occupiers, when he sped away from a traffic stop on the rural U.S. 395 highway. Moments later, Finicum swerved to avoid a roadblock set up by state police and the FBI, subsequently crashing into a snowbank.

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Finicum got out of the pickup truck and encouraged law enforcement to shoot him.

Finicum was reportedly killed by two state troopers who were found to be justified in shooting him in the back three times.

Finicum was told to get on the snowy ground, but refused to do so. At one point, he appeared to be reaching towards his jacket, which is when the state troopers fired at him.

In March 2016, Deschutes County Sheriff's Office investigators found three bullet holes in Finicum's truck -- in the driver's side mirror, the left front hood, and the front grille -- that were fired by a state trooper when Finicum was driving toward the roadblock, reported The Oregonian.

The investigators concluded that a fourth bullet was fired into the roof of the truck by an FBI agent who allegedly lied by saying he had not fired his gun. Investigators also believed the agent fired a second round, but missed.

A state trooper recalled seeing two shell casings near where the FBI agents were, but detectives were not able to find the casings.

Jeanette Finicum reportedly plans to file a lawsuit against the FBI and Oregon State Police for violating her late husband's civil rights based on a claim that excessive force, improper police procedures, and failed communication by law enforcement led to his death.

The Associated Press notes that Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with five others, were acquitted in a 2016 jury trial after being charged with conspiring to impede federal workers from their jobs.

However, four other occupiers were convicted in a second trial, while 14 more pleaded guilty.

The Bundy brothers' victory was short-lived, as they (and others) were arrested and charged with conspiracy in their father's earlier armed standoff in 2014 with federal agents in Nevada.

Sources: The Oregonian (2), The Associated Press via KATU / Photo credits: Blaine Cooper/Wikimedia Commons (2), FBI/Wikimedia Commons

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