FBI Agent Indicted on Five Counts for Alleged False Statements in Lavoy Finicum Shooting

Months after the criminal trial of the nine defendants involved in the Oregon Wildlife refuge standoff were acquitted, it has been reported that F.B.I. agent W. Joseph Astarita, 40, has been indicted on five counts regarding the lethal shooting of Lavoy Finicum. The agent is now being accused of lying about firing two shots at Finicum. He is being charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and three counts of making a false statement. Astarita has pleaded “not guilty” on all charges and will remain out of custody pending trial.

Astarita is accused of firing twice at Finicum but missing him. The indictment says Astarita, who served as a member of the elite FBI Hostage Rescue Team, “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.” He is accused of lying to three supervisors in the F.B.I. for not alerting the Oregon investigators or the FBI’s Shooting Incident Response Team that he fired his weapon.

It was state troopers, and not the F.B.I. that fired the three lethal shots that killed Finicum.

This criminal indictment stems from an 18-month-long investigation by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice.  However, the Oregon Attorney general stated that this indictment still does not change the findings that Oregon State Police were justified in using deadly force against Finicum.

What is Obstruction of Justice?

Obstruction of justice can be generally defined as interference with the administration of criminal investigation. It can consist of bribery, murder, intimidation, lying—anything to hinder the criminal investigation process. The crime is covered by different federal and state statutes.

In 2016, a study conducted by researchers at Bowling Green State University and funded by the National Institute of Justice found that police officers are getting arrested around 1,000 times per year. larmingly, 41% of the total crimes were committed while on duty, concluding that police, breaking the laws they are supposed to be upholding, is not that uncommon.

CA Obstruction of Justice

Section 148 of the California Penal Code makes it a crime to willfully “resist, delay or obstruct” a cop or first responder in the performance of on-the-job duties, which includes lying to an officer in an investigation, providing misleading information, destroying evidence, etc.  If convicted you face a $1,000 fine and a year imprisonment.

One of the most important questions that could come up in an obstruction of justice charge is whether the police violated your Constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.

San Diego Constitutional Rights and Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje will defend your constitutional rights and freedom with zeal and experience. We handle all misdemeanor and felony cases, including crimes of criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and assault of police officers. We will guide you through your trial process, comb through the evidence against you, and ensure that you have a fair trial. If you have been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact attorney David Boertje today.