Justice Dept: Park Police who shot, killed unarmed VCU graduate will not face charges

Posted at 6:07 PM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 23:30:14-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department on Thursday closed their investigation into the death of Bijan Ghaisar, announcing that they will not pursue charges against the U.S. Park Police two years after the 25-year-old was shot to death by officers following a vehicle pursuit.

Around 7:30 p.m. on  November 17, 2017, USPP officers Amaya and Vinyard began to pursue Ghaisar in his vehicle on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The pursuit ended at the intersection of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue in Fairfax County, Virginia, where the two USPP officers shot Mr. Ghaisar, who was unarmed, nine times while he was in the driver’s seat of his vehicle.

A four-and-a-half-minute dashcam video shows a Jeep driven by Ghaisar stop twice during the chase. In both instances, Park Police officers approached the vehicle with their guns drawn. Each time, Ghaisar drove off. On the third stop, the officers once again approached the driver's side window of the vehicle with their weapons drawn. Once again, Ghaisar attempted to drive off, but five gunshots can be heard. After a short pause, the vehicle started to move forward, when two additional sets of two gunshots can be heard, before the vehicle tipped over into a ditch, ending the video.

Ghaisar, who was shot three times in the head, was then transported to INOVA Hospital, where he died 10 days later.

"Based on the information available at this time, the Department cannot prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the two USPP officers committed willful violations of the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute when they shot Mr. Ghaisar," a statement released by the Justice Department on Thursday said.

In their investigation, the FBI interviewed more than 150 individuals, including law enforcement officers from USPP, Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, as well as civilian and medical witnesses. Additionally, federal investigators sent evidence recovered by USPP investigators to the FBI Laboratory at Quantico, Virginia, for testing and analysis.

The release states that the Justice Department was unable to disprove a claim of self-defense or defense of others by the officers who shot Ghaisar.

Ghaisar was a first-generation American-born citizen. He graduated from VCU in 2015 and had been working as an accountant at his family's firm in McLean.



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