Astarita Trial: Second Week of Testimony
The trial of W. Joseph Astarita, the FBI agent that allegedly shot at LaVoy Finicum on January 26, 2016 has continued throughout the week.
Revelations were highlighted throughout the week, including the following:
There was much testimony about the crime scene and where all officers were standing during the incident. Testimony about the investigation included the attempts to interview the law enforcement officers. There were major revelations concerning the FBI HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) agents interviews.
When questioned during the investigation, the FBI HRT agents made demands that they could only be questioned as a group and without any recordings of the interview.
Their answers during the interviews were vague and they could not remember details, such as where they were positioned or the color of their shell casings. It seemed very strange to the investigators that trained FBI agents responded this way.
There was a second plane that not too many people knew about. This plane was higher in the air and was able to record with infrared technology after dark.
The video from the second plane was played in court and proved to be very clear. It was shown to have captured at least three officers looking around, using flashlights, and bending down to pick objects up from the crime scene.
The crime scene was not secured properly. There was a period of time in which people in general could have walked around disturbing the scene. The FBI, however, had complete control over the area, including blocking traffic from both directions.
Shell casings from 40mm and .308 were seen on the ground, yet they were not all found during the official investigation. A ‘spent’ .308 casing was seen in the northbound lane that was missing later that evening.
Joey Pollard from OSP testified, “Agent Astarita approached me with an AR15 magazine extended to me and wondered if it belonged to OSP. It was a metal magazine. We use Pmag, so I pretty much dismissed it as ours. I did not take possession of the magazine.”
At least one trooper from the OSP did not necessarily consider the protesters as “dangerous”. He admitted that he believed them to be “armed” but only potentially dangerous.
The testimony from nearly all of the law enforcement so far has included the points that Agent Astarita had been hyped up and over-the-top in his behavior. One officer testified that Astarita was yelling loud and constant commands. Some of the information coming from the courtroom suggests that Agent Astarita was possibly very angry during the incident, or at least afterwards.
Jeanette Finicum, widow of the slain rancher, has been in the courtroom every day, with video updates in the evening. She describes in one video how Agent Astarita knocked the hat off Ryan Bundy’s head. She also describes how other law enforcement officers had done the same thing to her husband, as per the video. They had either thrown or kicked LaVoy’s hat when they went to attend to his body. This suggests some possible volatile feelings running through the agents on the scene.
One trooper testified of a conversation he had with Officer #2. “I was taking pictures with my phone. He called my attention to the brass casing almost under my feet on the fog line.” However, he did not take a picture of the casing.
The general feeling after all the testimony is that there appears to have been a cover-up by multiple HRT agents. Why then is only a single agent on trial?
This defense continues it’s theory that the blame should all fall on Officer #1, and it has been covered up by his “friend” Travis Hampton.
Both the prosecution and the defense have continued the talking points that 1) LaVoy was armed and Dangerous; 2) LaVoy was a militia leader; and 3) Everyone associated with him were to be feared.
Jeanette Finicum, update on Tuesday:
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