Park Police revises use of force rules in wake of Fairfax Co. man’s shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States Park Police says it’s reviewing revisions to its use of force and officer-involved shooting policies following the fatal shooting of a motorist in 2017.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner wrote to the National Park Service in June seeking information on the revisions after the shooting of Bijan Ghaisar.

In its response dated Tuesday, the Park Police said a revision to the general order on the use of force is under review. The agency’s manual for officer-involved shootings is also being revised. The agency says the revision is to ensure an impartial and objective investigation that promotes transparency and accountability; reflect contemporary investigative standards; and to include investigative referrals to partner law enforcement agencies. It’s also under review.

Park Police also said its internal affairs unit will determine if there were violations of the policy on use of lethal force. They also noted that the current vehicle pursuit policy effective June 2018 is a revision of policy from November 2002. The agency said the update reflects contemporary law enforcement standards and is generally restricted to felony offenses involving violence or the threat of violence.

Ghaisar was shot multiple times by Park Police officers after a chase on a northern Virginia parkway in November 2017.

Dashcam video released by local police showed Ghaisar leading officers on a four-minute, stop-and-go chase on the George Washington Parkway. Twice during the chase — which began after Ghaisar was involved in a fender-bender — Ghaisar stopped, but then resumed driving as officers approached with guns drawn.

The chase continued onto a side street, and officers again approached with guns drawn when Ghaisar stopped a third time. When Ghaisar again started to drive off and attempted to maneuver past the officers, they fired nine shots, and the video shows Ghaisar’s car slowly rolling into a ditch.

Lawyers for U.S. Park Police officer Lucas Vinyard said in a legal filing in the case that he acted in self-defense when he and another officer fatally shot Ghaisar. Vinyard is one of two officers being sued by the Ghaisar’s family.

Grassley and Warner have faulted the FBI for the slow pace of its investigation into the shooting. A lawyer for the Ghaisar family expressed frustration in June, saying the family had been trying to get information on the investigation without success for 18 months.

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