Wednesday, July 25, 2018

F.B.I. Agent Faces Trial Over Deadly Clash in Oregon

Now Mr. Astarita faces prison, the ultimate disgrace for an agent sworn to uphold the law. He was indicted on charges of lying and obstruction of justice after a deadly clash with a well-known anti-government activist. His federal trial starts Tuesday in Portland, Ore., and is expected to last several weeks, putting a spotlight on the F.B.I.’s Hostage Rescue Team.

Prosecutors say Mr. Astarita, 41, tried to cover up the firing of two shots during the arrest of the activist, LaVoy Finicum, during the confrontation at a remote federal wildlife refuge in January 2016 in Oregon.

Mr. Finicum was part of a small group of armed militants who had been protesting at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore. Led by two brothers from a Nevada ranching family, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, they were protesting the imprisonment of a pair of ranchers convicted of lighting fires that burned federal land.

Video footage recorded by a passenger in Mr. Finicum’s truck showed that the shots were fired after he stepped out. Prosecutors believe only Mr. Astarita could have fired those shots, basing their case on surveillance videos and photographs.

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