The indictment says that the agent, W. Joseph Astarita, a member of the FBI's hostage rescue team, lied about firing two shots at Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, one of the occupation's leaders, after he drove his truck toward a roadblock set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Oregon State Police.
"The fact that the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in and investigated one of their own and said, "You can't obstruct justice, you're not above the law" sends a very positive message, '" said attorney Brian Claypool, according to The Oregonian.
Finicum was shot on January 26, 2016, by Oregon State Police troopers while he was reaching toward a handgun inside his inner jacket pocket during a roadblock.
U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams stressed that the indictment did not affect the outcome of the investigation led by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, which found that the shooting was justified.
Agent Joseph Astarita, a member of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), is accused of firing the shot. While Astarita's shots missed, two state police officers shot and killed Finicum just moments later, possibly triggered by Astarita opening fire first. A week-long jury trial was set to begin August 29; Astarita is not being held in custody. Its members have maintained that Finicum was murdered, and his death has become a rallying cry.
A state trooper later described to investigators seeing two rifle casings in the area where the agents were posted.
The charges "do not in any way call into question the findings of the major incident team's investigation of OSP's use of deadly force", said Mr. Williams.
Finicum was one of the leaders of the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where he and dozens of others demanded the federal government turn the land over to state and local ranchers. Those shots were fired by state troopers.
He was not immediately identified pending a federal court appearance Wednesday in Portland.
On Jan. 2, 2016, Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, who was known for the 2014 Bundy standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., and six co-defendants seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and occupied it for 41 days.
It is not immediately certain if the indicted federal agent is on leave or was sacked.
The FBI past year released a 26-minute video of the incident, which showed that Finicum crashed his pickup truck into the snow after speeding away from a surprise traffic block. As he yelled at officers to shoot him, drone footage from above captured Finicum appearing to gesture toward his coat before he was killed.
"The actions of the FBI HRT in this case damaged the integrity of the entire law enforcement profession, which makes me both disappointed and angry", he said.