01 July, 2017
At the height of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which stretched on for weeks at the bird sanctuary in southeastern OR, authorities pulled over some of the group's leaders as they traveled on a snowy highway toward a meeting on January 26, 2016.
"The fact that the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in and investigated one of their own and said, "You can't obstruct justice, you're not above the law" sends a very positive message, '" said attorney Brian Claypool, according to The Oregonian.
Finicum was reportedly killed by two state troopers who were found to be justified in shooting him in the back three times.
A member of the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team who was involved in a deadly confrontation previous year with a prominent anti-government protester in OR has been indicted on charges of lying and obstruction, according to federal court documents.
Astarita pleaded not guilty to three counts of lying and two counts of obstruction of justice, NBC News reported, citing the June 20 indictment. He also twice lied about the firing to Oregon State Police investigators, which in turn stopped them from alerting federal authorities about his obstruction of justice, the indictment alleged.
Astarita is scheduled to have a jury trial on August 29.
Finicum's death inflamed anti-government sentiment.
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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. State police fired the shots that killed Finicum. One Medford, Ore., man, John Martin Roos, 62, was convicted in November of possessing pipe bombs and posting online threats to kill President Obama and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents after telling investigators that he was upset about Finicum's death.
Thornton praised Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson, who led the local investigation.
The agent's identity will be revealed on Wednesday after he appears in U.S. District Court in Portland.
On Jan. 2, 2016, Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, who was known for the 2014 Bundy standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., and six co-defendants seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and occupied it for 41 days.
Nelson said again Thursday that his office is continuing its investigation into the actions of the FBI agents present during the arrest attempt.
Video footage recorded by a passenger in Finicum's truck shows that two shots were fired after Finicum stepped out of the vehicle, one shattering its window.
Lavoy Finicum FacebookAstarita "falsely stated he had not fired his weapon during the attempted arrest of Robert La Voy Finicum, when he knew then and there that he had fired his weapon", according to the indictment. A dishonest agent would be "eaten alive" by the defense, he said.