FBI agent indicted for lying about shooting rancher in Oregon wildlife refuge
Less than two months after the shooting, the FBI acknowledged that a federal agent was under investigation for firing shots, and four other members of his FBI team were under investigation for covering up the gunshotsUpdated: Jun 28, 2017 11:08 IST
An FBI agent has been indicted on accusations that he lied about firing at a rancher in 2016 when officers arrested leaders of an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon.
Sources familiar with the case say the agent will face allegations of making a false statement with intent to obstruct justice, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday.
The indictment stems from more than a yearlong investigation by the US Justice Department inspector general. The agent will be identified when summoned to appear Wednesday in US District Court in Portland.
Authorities moved in on Ammon Bundy and other leaders as they were driving in two vehicles from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to a meeting on Jan. 26, 2016.
The Deschutes County sheriff said that as Robert “LaVoy” Finicum left his truck, an FBI agent shot twice at Finicum, though none of the hostage team members said they discharged their firearms. The county sheriff’s office was tasked with investigating the Finicum shooting.
The FBI agent’s bullets didn’t hit Finicum, 54, an Arizona rancher who was the spokesman for the takeover near Burns in Harney County.
State police troopers then shot Finicum three times after he emerged from his truck and reached for his inner jacket pocket, where police said he had a loaded 9mm handgun.
One bullet pierced his heart, an autopsy found.
The Oregon investigators determined that one agent fired at Finicum’s pickup, hitting it in the roof and missing on the second shot. Federal law forbids “knowingly and willfully” making any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation or concealing information.
Assistant US Attorney Charles Gorder Jr. revealed in court papers last year that a grand jury was reviewing the FBI actions.
Less than two months after the shooting, the FBI acknowledged that a federal agent was under investigation for firing shots, and four other members of his FBI team were under investigation for covering up the gunshots. The status of the investigation into the other FBI team members is unclear.
It’s not clear if the indicted agent is on leave or has been dismissed from the job. The hostage team is part of the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group, based out of Quantico, Virginia.
US Attorney Billy J Williams in Oregon has scheduled a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the federal courthouse. His spokesman, Kevin Sonoff, declined comment. Portland’s FBI spokeswoman Jennifer Adams said she was unaware of the matter.
First Published: Jun 28, 2017 11:08 IST