*Having owned a 1965 and a 1967 Ford Mustang convertible and Ford celebrating 10 million Mustangs produced, I don’t understand why Ford stock is hitting a 52-week low. I thought the cause might be a Ford truck that dodged an FBI sniper bullet in the Finicum trial, but it’s a Dodge.
Reviewing the video the shooting, the Oregon State Police (OSP) ordered LeVoy Finicum’s party out of the truck at a particular location near the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Finicum keeps shouting,
“Go ahead and shoot me.”
A male passenger in the truck shouts to the OSP, “You need to back off,” then telling the passengers, “We should have never stopped.” They have no cell phone connection yet are videotaping.
A female in the vehicle says, “Well if we duck, and you drive, what are they going to do? Try to knock us out.” Later adding, “What are they going to do shoot the tires out.” Finicum shouts out, “You want a bloodbath, it’s going to be on your hands.” The male passenger asks, “Where’re the guns?”
Finicum then drives off.
A female asks, “Are they shooting?”
The sound in the car sounds like the flurry of gunfire, but it also sounds like the wind from the windows rolled down and the vehicle moving. When the windows are rolled up, the noise stops.
They drive to a certain point; then you can hear what sounds like shots and a female saying, “They are shooting.” Finicum gets out of the truck and shouts several times, “Go ahead and shoot me,” his voice fading as he walks away from the truck. Distant sounds are advising Finicum to get down.
GO AHEAD AND SHOOT ME”
Shots are fired. A bullet hits the driver’s side rear window. The passengers open the back door, and the truck is fired upon again. The truck is stopped. The passengers see lasers directed at them. The shooting continues sporadically. Gas rounds are fired at the truck. A female yells out, “I surrender.” They are instructed to get out of the truck through the left side door.
Young FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita qualified for the elite FBI SWAT team. He is accused of firing twice at the truck, hitting it once and missing another shot. He denied shooting and the prosecutor has said he lied. The prosecutors constructed the crime scene indicating that the shots came from where Agent Astarita was located.
Tragically, a life was lost at the hands of the Oregon State Police, not the FBI. At the beginning of the video, the attitude of the clan in the truck was defiant with disregard to instructions of law enforcement. The shots shifted that attitude.
Straighten up, surrender, submit, game over.
The loss of life could have been prevented by driver Finicum and psychologists will argue suicide by cop.
The trial will bring out the transparency of what occurred. If the FBI Agent shot during the incident, he should state his reasons. There is nothing to be ashamed of in protecting officers on the scene, even if he was trained to fire at a postage stamp from fifty yards and one shot was entirely off sight.
If he did not shoot, he should stand his ground as he has. If he lied, he does not deserve to carry a badge for the FBI. Possibly shots were fired from Oregon’s grassy knoll. No officer should dodge any responsibility.
There are plenty of questions for the nine men and three women on the jury.
Since the writing of this article, a jury has found Agent Astarita not guilty, and has determined that he did not fire his weapon on that fateful day.
We have not yet heard the end of this tragedy, but Agent Astarita’s not guilty verdict reaffirms the integrity of the FBI in a time the Bureau’s reputation has come under fire.
Sam Martinez is a retired FBI special agent
and author of
Systemic Evil, Mat Perez vs the FBI