FBI agent found not guilty of lying about gunshots that missed LaVoy Finicum

FILE- This Jan. 26, 2016 file photo taken from an FBI video shows Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, center, after he was fatally shot by police near Burns, Ore. Opening statements begin in federal court in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, July 25, 2018, in the trial of an FBI agent accused of lying about firing two shots that missed Finicum, a spokesman for a group that took over an Oregon wildlife refuge in January 2016. (FBI via AP, File)

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.

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