Dashcam video of the pursuit and shooting of Bijan Ghaisar on the George Washington Parkway was released earlier this week. Ghaisar, 25, of McLean died two weeks after U.S. Park Police officers chased him down. Under Park Police policies, eluding police is not itself a pursable offense. Officers have to believe a felony has occurred or that a suspect is a threat. The policies further explain when officers should use deadly force.
WASHINGTON — After police dashcam video of the pursuit and shooting of Bijan Ghaisar was released, WTOP is taking a look at the policies of United States Park Police that apply to the shooting.
Ghaisar, 25, died from his injuries two weeks after U.S. Park Police officers chased him down the George Washington Parkway Nov. 17, 2017, and shot him in the Fort Hunt neighborhood of Fairfax County, Virginia. Police said he struck another car while driving. The FBI is investigating whether the shooting was justified.
The U.S. Park Police policy reads that a vehicular pursuit is authorized only when: “the officer has reason to believe a felony has occurred or is occurring. Or the suspect presents a clear and immediate threat to public safety.”
It notes, “The act of fleeing and eluding the police shall not in itself be a pursuable offense.”
In the video, Ghaisar of McLean, Virginia comes to a rolling stop twice during the chase. At the third stop, it shows officers firing into his rolling car nine times.
The Park Police department’s use-of-deadly-force policy reads that officers shall not fire at a moving vehicle, “except when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”
Because of the FBI investigation, the department is limited in what it can say. But after the video was released, U.S. Park Police Chief Robert D. MacLean said in a statement, “While respecting the integrity of the investigation, I also recognize the desire for more information and details surrounding the investigation.”
“The continued secrecy by the U.S. Park Police shows a lack of simple human consideration for Mr. Ghaisar’s family, as well as to the communities under the agency’s jurisdiction. We demand all federal law enforcement officers are held to the same standards as others who police our communities,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson, said in a statement.
Police around the country have come under fire over how and when officers use deadly force following a string of high-profile shootings of unarmed drivers. Ghaisar’s family has said he was unarmed.
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