The trial of W. Joseph Astarita, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) sniper who stands accused of lying about taking shots at LaVoy Finicum prior to him being shot and killed on January 26, 2016, began this week, and we are now learning that the federal government is doing the same thing prosecutors were doing in the Bundy Ranch trials, committing several Brady violations by withholding information prior to trial, and apparently, seeking to suppress it fully.
As Shari Devale with Redoubt News has been covering the story in Oregon, she reported on Wednesday that several bombshells were released in the testimony of former Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing.
She continued her reporting following the rest of the testimonies on Wednesday.
During his testimony, multiple points were revealed that were never disclosed to the defendants in the two Malheur Protest trials, of which this trial centers around. This information could be considered ‘Brady’ material, which would have been required to be turned over to the defense.
Bretzing explained that there were 2 surveillance planes flying, one at night using infrared cameras, after the shooting. This video will be played in court later, possibly as soon as tomorrow.
The infrared video shows someone wandering around after the shooting kicking the snow looking for his shell casings, then bending over and picking something up. The prosecution has suggested that the person is Astarita and that is when he was picking up shell casings.
The defense, on the other hand, believes that the FBI have a protocol in place to clean up their equipment even before an investigation commences. They have even suggested that there was live ammunition on the ground that needed to be secured before any ‘militia’ members showed up.
Bretzing also revealed that they had over 300 agents in the area. Additionally, the HRT members had been in the area for 2 weeks, staying at a motel in Boise, ID.
Further, Bretzing stated on the stand today that there was a contingency plan for a full on assault on the refuge. This is important because in the previous 2 trials, it was stated that there was no plan.
The rest of the contingency plan was in multiple parts, with one part being an ambush of the leadership while they were on the road. This was accomplished on January 26th.
Another part of the plan was to place roadblocks all around the refuge, believing they could starve everyone out. They would then arrest everyone individually as they exited the refuge. This was to be the next step if the traffic stop had not worked.
Others who testified included Travis Hampton of the Oregon State Police (OSP), the highest ranking OSP officer on the scene.
The defense attempted to link him with one of the officers who fired 2 of the 3 fatal shots that killed LaVoy Finicum, and claim that they were such good friends that he may have covered up mistakes that the other officer committed.
Now, what that has to do with the charges against Astarita are anyone’s guess. Deflection is more like what it appears to be.
Scott Ward, the Senior HRT member, testified that he gave the order after the shooting to close the road down and only allow law enforcement vehicles and an ambulance through, providing refutation that other vehicles didn’t pick up shell casings in their tires and that there were no random people collecting them either.
Did these people learn nothing from Steven Myhre’s multiple violations of the rights of the defendants and the law in the Bundy Ranch case? In the Bundy Ranch case, it was dismissed due to his criminal activity. Is the government attempting to use this tactic to get their star sniper off the hook? It very well could be the method.
Article posted with permission from Freedom Outpost