FBI Agent involved in Lavoy Finicum Shooting Indicted

By Faye Higbee

A former FBI Agent from the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) involved in the Lavoy Finicum Shooting has been indicted on 5 charges- 3 counts of Making False Statements and 2 Counts of Obstruction of Justice. He plead not guilty to the charges in Federal Court on Wednesday. The charges can have a penalty of upwards of 5 years to 20 years in Federal prison plus fines.

Joseph Astarita, 40, was a member of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team – who rescued no one and killed instead. He is accused of lying to 3 supervisory FBI agents about firing twice (supposedly missing both times) at Finicum as he emerged from his truck. He is also accused of failing to notify the FBI’s Shooting Incident Response Team about the fact that he fired his weapon.

Part of the indictment reads:

“Defendant acted with the intent to hinder, delay and prevent the communication of information from the Oregon State Police to the Federal Bureau of Investigation relating to the possible commission of a federal offense…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.”

 “Who will guard the guards?”

The Deschutes County Sheriff – whose agency has been the lead in the investigation- stated that he was disappointed in Astarita’s behavior, and was upset that there were some FBI HRT members who were not placed on administrative leave, since there was evidence that not just one but others may have been involved in covering the incident. He stated that their office was still involved in a “parallel” investigation into the situation so no comment would be given.

The Oregon State Police also stated that the alleged actions of the defendant were “deeply disappointing” and that their reputation might be diminished by their association with the situation.  But they are hopeful that it will not totally destroy the reputation of the many good FBI agents.

One of the rounds found in the roof of Finicum’s truck is one of the unaccounted for shots. The US Attorney for Oregon stated many of the questions posed by reporters at the press conference would be answered during the court trial.