FBI agent accused of lying about firing shots during confrontati - KPTV - FOX 12

FBI agent accused of lying about firing shots during confrontation with LaVoy Finicum

Posted: Updated: Jun 28, 2017 05:33 PM
Video released in March 2016 shows LaVoy Finicum in his truck talking to law enforcement officers on Highway 395 before he was shot and killed. (KPTV) Video released in March 2016 shows LaVoy Finicum in his truck talking to law enforcement officers on Highway 395 before he was shot and killed. (KPTV)
Investigators said Finicum refused to follow orders to get on the ground and repeatedly reached toward his pocket where he had a loaded handgun before he was shot by OSP troopers. (KPTV) Investigators said Finicum refused to follow orders to get on the ground and repeatedly reached toward his pocket where he had a loaded handgun before he was shot by OSP troopers. (KPTV)
Courtroom sketch of FBI agent Joseph Astarita in court Wednesday. (Courtesy: Deborah Marble) Courtroom sketch of FBI agent Joseph Astarita in court Wednesday. (Courtesy: Deborah Marble)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

An FBI agent is accused of lying about firing two shots during the deadly confrontation with Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation spokesman LaVoy Finicum in January 2016.

Joseph Astarita was indicted by a grand jury on charges of making false statements and obstruction of justice. He pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday.

The indictment alleges Astarita "falsely stated he had not fired his weapon during the attempted arrest of Robert LaVoy Finicum, when he knew then and there that he had fired his weapon."

The indictment states Astarita fired two shots.

Finicum was shot and killed after the FBI and Oregon State Police launched an operation to end the nearly month-long occupation of the wildlife refuge near Burns.

Finicum sped away from a traffic stop on Highway 395 and drove off the road into a snow bank to avoid a blockade set up by law enforcement.

Investigators said Finicum exited the truck, failed to follow commands and was shot by troopers while he attempted to reach into his jacket, where he had a loaded 9 mm handgun.

Eight shots total were fired by police and FBI agents. Six shots fired by Oregon State Police troopers were deemed justified, according to the Malheur County District Attorney's Office.

Astarita did not report firing the two additional shots, according to court documents, and an investigation was launched, leading to the grand jury indictment.

Investigators said one of the shots hit the roof of Finicum's truck. 

"Special Agent Astarita's alleged actions that led to this investigation and indictment do not, in any way, call into question the findings of the Major Incident Team's investigation of OSP's use of deadly force. OSP's actions were justified and necessary in protecting officer safety," according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. 

Astarita was working for the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team at the time of the shooting. He was granted pre-trial release and is scheduled to face trial on Aug. 29.

In October 2016, the leaders of the group that took over the National Wildlife Refuge, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were found not guilty of conspiracy and possession of firearms at a federal facility.

Occupation of Oregon wildlife refuge
Jan. 15, 2016: Armed occupiers ask FBI to 'go home'
Jan. 26, 2016: Standoff spokesman LaVoy Finicum dead; Ammon Bundy arrested
Jan. 28, 2016: Ammon Bundy pledges to 'continue to educate the American people'
Jan. 28, 2016: Video shows Finicum reach for pocket containing loaded gun
March 8, 2016: Investigation reveals Finicum shot 3 times; 8 shots fired total
March 8, 2016: Photos from Finicum shooting investigation released
March 8, 2016: Finicum's wife reacts to his killing being found justified
Oct. 27, 2016: Jury acquits leaders of Malheur Wildlife Refuge standoff

Copyright 2017 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly
FOX 12
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2017, KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation, Portland, OR . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.