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Civil case delayed in fatal shooting of unarmed VCU graduate

Bijan Ghaisar
Posted at 3:42 PM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 15:48:15-04

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A civil suit filed by the family of a northern Virginia man who was fatally shot by two U.S. Park Police officers during a stop-and-go chase three years ago has been put on hold, despite the family’s objections to the delay.

Twenty-five-year-old Bijan Ghaisar of McLean, Virginia, died after the November 2017 chase outside the nation’s capital.

Federal Judge Claude Hilton on Friday ordered a delay in the trial, which had been scheduled to begin next month.

He said a stay is appropriate now that the two officers, Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard, have been charged with manslaughter in state court.

Hilton said the delay may provide a window to obtain testimony from the officers, who have invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Amaya and Vinyard were charged earlier this month after years of agitation by the family of Ghaisar and some political figures who saw the officers’ conduct in the shooting as excessive.

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.

Related: Officers: We gave 'chance after chance' before 2017 shooting

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

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.

In November 2019, the Justice Department closed its investigation announcing it would not pursue charges against the U.S. Park Police officers.

Federal prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges against the officers last year, saying their actions did not rise to the level of criminality.

Following that federal decision, Fairfax County prosecutors launched their own investigation.