PORTLAND, Ore. – An FBI agent involved in an armed confrontation during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was acquitted on charges of making false statements and obstruction of justice.
Agent W. Joseph Astarita was one of several agents assigned to the armed standoff situation in Harney County in January 2016. He was present at the fatal shooting of occupation member Robert LaVoy Finicum.
After the shooting, Astarita told his supervisors he did not fire his weapon during the attempted arrest of Finicum. Eventually, Astarita found himself facing allegations of willfully making false statements to FBI Supervisory Special Agents.
Astarita was formally charged with three counts of making false statements and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Federal grand jurors sat through a three-week trial, hearing testimony from FBI agents, forensic scientists, and others.
On August 10, 2018, the grand jury acquitted Astarita on all charges.