Prosecutors in Fairfax County, Virginia, seek to bring a case against two U.S. Park Police officers over the fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar in 2017.
First reported by The Washington Post, a Ghaisar family lawyer said Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh’s office informed him on Wednesday that it tried to present the case to a grand jury but was unable to because the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia “refused to clear an FBI agent to testify.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said that it received the Tuohy request from Morrogh’s office on Friday night.
“This is not the type of request that can be resolved over the weekend or in just three business days. It is important to note that the request is still under consideration by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia,” the office said in a statement.
The Department of Justice’s Tuohy regulations state that “no present or former employee of the Department of Justice may testify or produce Departmental records in response to subpoenas or demands of courts or other authorities issued in any state or federal proceeding without obtaining prior approval by an appropriate Department official.”
Morrogh’s office was invited to participate in the investigation two years ago, but it decline to do so, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia
Morrogh’s last day as Commonwealth’s Attorney is Dec. 31. He will be succeeded by Steve Descano.
In statement provided to WTOP, the Ghaisar family said that they appreciated Morrogh’s efforts to obtain justice for Bijan, and that Morrogh and his office did what the federal government has never done, which is to keep them informed of the status of the investigation.
“It is now more clear than ever that individuals at [the Department of Justice] are not only refusing to do their jobs but are preventing others from doing what is right,” the family said.
Last month the Justice Department announced it would not press federal charges against the U.S. Park Police officers because investigators could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard willfully violated Ghaisar’s civil rights.
Ghaisar, a 25-year-old accountant from McLean, Virginia, was shot by the two officers on Nov. 17, 2017, in the Fort Hunt area of Fairfax County, Virginia. The shooting followed a police chase on the George Washington Parkway, during which the officers repeatedly tried to pull Ghaisar over without success.
After a third stop, Amaya and Vinyard approached Ghaisar’s Jeep and then fired multiple shots as his vehicle moved forward.
Ghaisar, who was unarmed and sitting in the driver’s seat, was shot four times in the head and once in his right wrist, according to his family. He died in a hospital 10 days later.
WTOP staff contributed to this report.