FBI Privilege Keeps Defendant Out Of Jail
by Shari Dovale
FBI Supervisory Special Agent W. Joseph Astarita is facing 5 charges for his actions during the incident that resulted in the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on January 26, 2016.
Charges include obstruction of justice and giving false statements to investigators. Astarita is alleged to have fired two shots towards LaVoy and his vehicle, then lying about making these shots, as well as disposing of the shell casings.
It is reported that a conviction for making false statements could bring up to five years in prison; a conviction for obstruction of justice could bring up to a 20-year sentence.
In my humble opinion, this is a classic case of a fall-guy for the FBI. The difference will be seen in how rigorous the government prosecutes this case. Will this be an easy in-and-out for the defendant? Is he even worried?
Yes, I am sure that this man probably fired the two rounds at the truck. I believe that he shot the truck exactly where he intended. I do not believe that he “missed” his target.
The officers from Oregon State Police (OSP) fired the fatal shots into Finicum’s back. They were cleared of wrongdoing during this investigation, and the shots were determined to be “justified”. Let’s take just another quick peek at this.
The OSP officers were prepared for any reaction they may have received from the protesters. They were told that the protesters were “armed & dangerous”. Their weapons were out, aimed, and ready to fire.
The FBI Special Agent then allegedly fired his weapon twice, towards Finicum and his vehicle, missing on the second shot and hitting the top of the truck. This was made public when the video from passenger Shawna Cox was made available.
He missed on “the second shot”? What happened to the first shot? Did he miss twice? Or did he actually accomplish what he set out to do?
I believe that the two shots fired were, by design, intended to escalate the situation. When LaVoy exited the truck he had his hands in the air and was not holding a weapon. The situation was not out of control. There was no need to fire at him.
However, when FBI Special Agent Astarita fired his weapon, the shots went into the roof of the truck, exiting out of the rear window. It would have been a normal belief on the part of the OSP officers to think that the protesters were firing at them from the vehicle.
The agent was firing in the direction of the OSP officers. Was this to incite the OSP officers to fire at Finicum and the other protesters?
The public has been led to believe that this has been an active investigation for a year and a half. However, Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and his investigators traveled to FBI headquarters over a year ago. They briefed the FBI’s then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, now acting director, about their findings and the FBI’s potential criminal liability in February 2016.
The FBI has been sitting on this information for nearly a year and a half!
The sheriff revealed that FBI leaders, after being told of his department’s findings, didn’t put the agent or four of his colleagues on leave. Actually, according to FBI headquarters, Astarita remains employed in an administrative capacity.
Finally, just this month, he was indicted by the Grand Jury. He made a court appearance this week with a Public Defender by his side and entered a plea of not guilty in a two-minute arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart in federal court in Portland.
He was not held. He was not required to post bond. He was not given any specific instructions as to his behavior, travel, etc. As a matter of fact, US Attorney Billy Williams stressed that this man was to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. He was released on his own recognizance pending his trial scheduled for August 29th.
We can find no mugshot to indicate that he was even processed through the system.
He is being treated with the utmost courtesy and respect. He was not subjected to the invasiveness of the booking process. He was placed on administrative leave by the government. He gets to keep his job and stay out of jail.
He has not been charged with shooting at Finicum. He has only been charged with lying about shooting towards Finicum.
What about the four other agents that are “suspected” of helping him cover up this crime? They were seen on the video, huddled, and picking up objects from the ground. Will they be held accountable for their actions?
No one has been charged with destroying the shell casings.
No one has been charged with the death of LaVoy Finicum.
No one has been charged with escalating the situation to cause the death of LaVoy Finicum.
The non-violent protesters from the Malheur Refuge were held without bail for over a year. They were accused of being flight risks. They were shackled and treated poorly at every opportunity. They were not treated with the respect that this government employee enjoys.
And these issues are not being addressed by the FBI or US Attorney Billy Williams. The government has, again, set up the class system to give themselves special privilege.
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