Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Experts hired to present 3D animation of shots allegedly fired by FBI agent at LaVoy Finicum's truck

Federal prosecutors have hired a specialist to do a 3D depiction of two shots allegedly fired by an indicted FBI agent at the truck of Oregon standoff spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum two years ago.

Toby Terpstra, senior forensic animator at the Colorado-based company Kineticorp, is among nine government experts disclosed by prosecutors in their pending case against FBI Agent W. Joseph Astarita.

Astarita was indicted in June and has pleaded not guilty to three counts of making a false statement and two counts of obstruction of justice. He is accused of hiding from Oregon investigators that he fired his rifle and lying to the FBI about his shots.

The Jan. 26, 2016, shooting came as state police and FBI agents stopped key figures of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after they left the bird sanctuary to travel to a community meeting in John Day.

Astarita's bullets didn't hit Finicum, 54, Oregon investigators said. They concluded that Astarita fired twice at the truck, hitting the roof and missing on the second shot. Seconds later, state troopers shot Finicum three times after he stepped away from his pickup and reached for his inner jacket pocket, where police later said he had a loaded 9mm handgun. Bullets struck him in the back and one pierced his heart, an autopsy found.

The case likely will turn on expert testimony about the validity of the Oregon investigation, conducted by Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, defense lawyers have said in court. A trial is set for July 24.

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones said Wednesday during a status conference in the case that he had urged both sides to work to save expenses by having their experts evaluate the evidence together and then submit separate analyses. The practice is called "hot-tubbing'' of experts, and has been more common in Australian courts but sometimes is used in federal civil cases in Oregon.

Jones called it a "simple concept." Defense lawyer David Angeli agreed that the concept sounds straightforward, but told the court that it's more difficult in practice.

The government's experts have relied on the syncing of audio as well as two videos, one from the cellphone of backseat passenger Shawna Cox taken inside Finicum's truck and one from an FBI surveillance plane overhead. They've worked to recreate the scene in 3D through what's called photogrammetry, using coordinate measurements from photographs and videos.

The defense experts plan to examine what the government's experts have done "to see if this purported science is even science at all,'' Angeli told the judge.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Maloney said all but one of the reports from the government's experts have been provided to the defense. The prosecutors are awaiting a report by Frank Piazza, an audio/video expert that will be shared with the defense once it's received, Maloney said.

Piazza worked to identify points in time on the synced video where shots were fired and where people were standing when each shot was fired, Maloney said.

LaVoy Finicum shooting: FBI agent faces 5-count indictment

W. Joseph Astarita, who was a member of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, is accused of failing to alert the FBI's Shooting Incident Response team to investigate his officer-involved shooting, lying to two supervisor FBI agents and concealing to investigators that he had fired his weapon on Jan. 26, 2016, the indictment says.


The government will make their experts available to the defense if desired, Maloney said.

In March 2016, the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and FBI announced that an FBI agent was suspected of firing twice at Finicum and may have gotten help from four other FBI agents in covering up afterward. No other agent has been charged in the case.

The government's experts are from both within and outside of Oregon. In addition to Terpstra, they are:

-- Victoria Dickerson, an Oregon State Police lab senior forensic expert on evidence collection, scene analysis, and firearms ballistics and trajectories.

-- Deschutes County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Turpen, an accident reconstruction expert.

-- Daniel Alessio, an Oregon State Police lab forensic science expert on firearms and tool mark examination.

-- Deschutes County Sheriff's Detective Zach Neeman, an expert on digital evidence collection, data extraction and computer forensics.

-- Piazza, the audio/video expert who is president of Audio Paint Ltd. and Legal Audio Video.

-- Jeff M. Smith and Catalin Grigoras, forensic media analysis and photogrammetry experts from Forensic Media Services Ltd.

-- Michael Haag, a forensic science consultant on firearms, ballistics, shooting reconstructions, and 3D laser scanning.

-- Maxine Bernstein



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Wednesday January 10, 2018 02:30 AM  Pacific

             Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001 - 2017, All Rights Reserved