Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A bullet hole, a mystery and an FBI agent's indictment — the messy aftermath of an Oregon standoff



The shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on a snowy Oregon highway on Jan. 26, 2016, was one of those instant American dramas in which every photo, every eyewitness account and every millisecond of video become forensic evidence in a public debate over whether someone deserved to die at the hands of police.

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.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-fbi-oregon-shooting-20170628-story.html

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