FBI agent found not guilty of lying about gunshots

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An FBI agent has been found not guilty of lying about firing shots at a militia leader who participated in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

A jury on Friday returned the verdict on W. Joseph Astarita.

Astarita was charged with making false statements and obstruction of justice after telling investigators he did not fire two shots that missed Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a key figure in the group that seized the eastern Oregon refuge in 2016 while protesting the imprisonment of two ranchers. Oregon State Police fatally shot Finicum seconds later.

Astarita denied firing the shots.

Federal prosecutors had argued that Astarita was a rookie on the elite Hostage Rescue Team who panicked as Finicum came close to running over his teammate at a police roadblock.