FBI agent pleads not guilty to lying about shooting at Lavoy Finicum
By Brian Seay
Courtroom art of W. Joseph Astarita appearing before a judge in a Portland federal court on June 28, 2017. (Photo: KOIN)
An FBI agent pleaded not guilty in a Portland federal court Wednesday to charges he lied to his superiors and investigators about firing two shots at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum just before he was killed last January.
W. Joseph Astarita, 40, is charged with three counts of making a false statement and two counts of obstruction of justice, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday.
Astarita appeared in a packed courtroom and said nothing as a lawyer entered his not guilty pleas for all five counts, according to the Associated Press.
On Jan. 26, 2016, Finicum, a spokesman for the group who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, swerved his truck into a snowbank — nearly hitting an FBI Hostage Rescue Team member — to avoid a roadblock on U.S. 395 in Oregon. After the car stopped, Finicum got out. Video released last year shows a window shatter as Finicum raised his hands in the air.
“Go ahead and shoot me,” Finicum can be heard saying. The 54-year-old Arizona rancher was facing an Oregon State Police trooper and reached for a loaded 9mm handgun in