Yesterday, I reported on the fact that an indictment had been handed down against an FBI agent who took a shot at Lavoy Finicum on January 26, 2016 as he exited his truck before being gunned down by Oregon State Police. On Wednesday, that agent entered a plea of not guilty to five counts of lying and obstruction. Furthermore, he is not even being held on bail.
The irony of what is taking place is absolutely amazing. While men sit in a detention center in Nevada awaiting a trial and have been denied bail, even though they never engaged in any violence, a federal agent is allowed to walk the streets free for attempting to murder a man and then lie about it.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
In classic fashion, two sides examined the same evidence and saw two different things. To the government, Finicum, 55, was reaching for a loaded gun in his jacket after speeding away from a traffic stop, and the shooting by Oregon State Police troopers was justified.
To thousands of antigovernment activists across the country, the Arizona rancher was a folk hero who became a martyr when, in their view, he was ambushed — shot in the back without a gun in his hand — by overaggressive law enforcement officials who were trying to crush the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
But when it came to one mysterious piece of evidence in the case, the two sides were bothered by the same question: Where did the bullet hole in the roof of Finicum’s truck come from?
The government offered an answer Wednesday when a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team was indicted on suspicion of shooting twice at Finicum during the chaotic encounter and then lying about it to state and federal investigators.
The agent, W. Joseph Astarita, stone-faced and wearing a dark gray pinstriped suit, entered a plea of not guilty to five counts of lying and obstruction in a two-minute arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart in federal court in Portland.
Astarita and the Hostage Rescue Team — the FBI’s crack counter-terrorism unit, which responds to crises all over the nation — had been summoned to rural Oregon to help resolve the government’s high-stakes standoff with a band of heavily armed occupiers who took over Malheur on Jan. 2, 2016.
The occupation near Burns, Ore., was widely viewed as the ideological sequel to the Bureau of Land Management’s 2014 armed showdown with ranchers and militia in Bunkerville, Nev., who were protesting the government’s attempts to get a local rancher, Cliven Bundy, to follow federal wildlands laws.
There are several things that need to be pointed out. First and foremost, what the LA Times calls, “antigovernment activists” are simply people who believe in limited government. They are not anti-government. They are anti-tyranny.
Second, agent Astarita is obviously hoping the FBI is going to cover for him by entering such a plea. Let’s be honest about something here. Take a look at the synced video and you will hear the shots taken by this agent that missed Finicum when he exited the truck.
Like the shots taken by another over zealous FBI sniper at Ruby Ridge that killed Vicki Weaver, Randy Weaver’s wife as she held their baby, this guy did basically the same thing.
Finicum was no threat to anyone as he exited the vehicle. Had either of the bullets struck and killed Finicum, this agent would be guilty of murder. Yet, Judge Stewart ordered this man to remain free pending trial! This, while Oregon would not release any of those peaceful protesters at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge on bail nor will Judge Gloria Navarro in Nevada. Why?
Though the Oregon State Police were apparently responsible for actually shooting Finicum to death, the FBI claimed to investigate several of their agents concerning failing to report that they fired shots at Finicum and his vehicle. They apparently disposed of the bullet casings as well.
Furthermore, the agent and at least several other agents were investigated concerning the shooting within 2 months of the shooting. Where is the indictment against these men? Where is the indictment against the Special Agent in Charge? Was he not paying attention to what his men were doing? Was he not keeping up with the operation on this day?
At the time of the shooting, even the FBI didn’t give the whole truth at a press conference, according to the Bundy’s attorney.
Finicum’s widow has filed a wrongful death lawsuit even though Oregon has ruled the shooting of her husband justified.
““I believe there’s more that needs to be done; there were other officers involved in the coverup,” said Jeanette Finicum, who was happy about this particular indictment.
Activist Gavin Seim, who often teaches policemen who are violating the law what the law actually is said, “These are not hostage rescuers. The HRT are assassins. A man was murdered, assassinated on the side of the road. I’m sorry, guys. This is not so awesome. This is not a victory when the terrorists of the planet, of our country, of our people commit crimes.”
Interestingly Seim mentioned that the HRT was also present at the Ruby Ridge and Waco standoffs in the 1990s.
He then added that Finicum “exemplifies making a principled stand, standing up and giving his life for his friends and for liberty.”
He then went on to get to take a shot are police reports.
“Every police report in America is false. That’s the norm,” Seim said. “This guy just got noticed,” he said of Astarita.
Finicum was shot three times in the back. The Finicum shooting has been deemed justified by the State of Oregon.