Joseph Astarita

Robert LaVoy Finicum: FBI Agent Joseph Astarita Indicted On Charges Related To Oregon Standoff Death

Robert LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed by Oregon State Patrol officers on January 26, 2016. According to reports, the 54-year-old man was the spokesperson for a group of protestors — who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from January 2, 2016, to February 11, 2016. More than one year after Finicum’s shooting death, a grand jury has indicted FBI agent Joseph Astarita on five counts — which include making false statements about the shooting incident.

On January 2, 2016, a group of armed protesters seized and began occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Princeton, Oregon. As reported by Oregon Live, the accused militants were protesting the conviction and subsequent imprisonment of Steven and Dwight Hammond Jr.

Cliven Bundy, who organized the occupation, assured officials that the protest would remain peaceful as long as law enforcement officials did not use any force against the protestors.

Over the next 40 days, several organizations and government officials attempted to negotiate with the protesters and convince them to leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters. However, the accused militants remained on the property until they were threatened with physical force.

Amid the standoff, Robert LaVoy Finicum and several other protesters left the wildlife refuge to drive to another location. Authorities, who included the Oregon State Police and the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, attempted to stop the accused militants while they were traveling down a rural portion of the highway.

According to reports, Robert LaVoy Finicum attempted to flee the officers. However, he inadvertently crashed his vehicle into a snowbank. Although the details remain a point of heated controversy, Finicum eventually exited the vehicle and was shot dead by law enforcement officials.

Following an investigation into the incident, authorities determined Robert was reaching toward his pocket, which contained a loaded firearm, when he was shot and killed by the officers. Therefore, Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris confirmed, “… the troopers’ shots were deemed justifiable.”

As reported by Los Angeles Times, Robert LaVoy Finicum’s family, friends, and supporters claim he was standing with his hands raised at the time of his shooting. They also claimed an FBI agent fired shots at Robert before he was killed by the state police. However, the agent failed to report that the shots were fired.

This week, the FBI agent, who was identified as Joseph Astarita, was indicted on five counts of misconduct. According to the indictment, which was published by UPI, Astarita is accused of hindering “the communication of information from the Oregon State Police to the Federal Bureau of Investigation relating to the possible commission of a federal offense” in relation to the shooting of Robert LaVoy Finicum.

[Featured Image by davidkrug/Shutterstock]

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