Officer involved in militia leader’s death named in court
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A state police officer accidentally revealed in court Tuesday the name of one of the officers who fatally shot a militia leader who participated in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.
The officer’s name slipped out this week during the trial of indicted FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita, who is accused of lying about firing shots toward Robert “LaVoy” Finicum’s truck, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported .
Astarita has pleaded not guilty.
Authorities have concealed names of the officers involved in the shooting for more than two years citing concerns about threats from militias.
Oregon law enforcement officials ruled the shooting justified.
During the trial, the officers involved were being identified as “Officer 1” and “Officer 1.”
State police SWAT officer Bob Olson accidently identified Officer 1 by his last name and rank on Tuesday.
People who were involved in or supported the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge began circulating the officer’s name and photo online that night. Several threats toward the officer followed.
Finicum’s widow, Jeanette, and Ammon Bundy have spoken out against these actions.
Bundy, the occupation’s lead organizer, told supporters to consider that the officer was following orders and had been told by federal officials that their group was dangerous.
“I pray for him and hope he can see what he is doing,” Bundy wrote. “He is a brainwashed man who has been fed lies his entire adult life about what it really is to defend freedom.”
The occupiers seized the refuge in 2016 to protest the imprisonment of two Oregon ranchers.
Astarita’s trial is expected to last several weeks.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com