PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The defense attorney for indicted FBI agent Joseph Astarita told jurors during opening statements that his client knows when to shoot and when not to shoot, and if the expert marksman had shot, he would not have missed.
Astarita is charged with making false statements and obstruction of justice after telling investigators he did not fire two shots that missed Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a spokesman for the group that occupied an Oregon wildlife refuge for several weeks in 2016.
The errant shots came as the rancher emerged from his pickup as authorities moved in to arrest leaders of the refuge takeover. Oregon State Police fatally shot Finicum seconds later.
In his opening, prosecutor Gary Sussman portrayed Astarita as a relatively inexperienced member of an elite FBI unit, and the only person in position to fire the shots.