Park Police must wear bodycams, Ghaisar’s mother tells lawmakers

It was nearly three years ago — Nov. 17, 2017 — that Bijan Ghaisar was shot to death by U.S. Park Police after a minor crash on the George Washington Parkway in Virginia.

Ghaisar’s mother Kelly, of McLean, told a House subcommittee Tuesday that Park Police must be held accountable for her son’s death.

She also made the case that Park Police officers should be required to wear body-worn cameras, and that their vehicles should be equipped with dash-mounted cameras.

Appearing before the House Natural Resources Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Kelly Ghaisar reminded lawmakers it was a Fairfax County police dashcam that revealed her son’s final moments.

“The Park Police do not wear body cameras, and their cruisers do not have dash cameras. If not for Fairfax County cruisers’ dash cameras, we would have never known how our son was murdered,” Ghaisar testified to the panel. She singled out Fairfax County police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. for his decision to promptly release the dashcam video of her son’s killing.

The chase that led up to Ghaisar’s death ended in the Fairfax County neighborhood of Fort Hunt.

“Bijan deserves justice. … Body cameras do one important job, one job: They give us the truth, not a version of alternative truth,” she told the panel. It has legislative jurisdiction over the Department of the Interior, under which Park Police serve.

It was learned earlier this month that two Park Police officers told federal investigators they opened fire on the unarmed 25-year-old when his Jeep Cherokee was driving toward them.

The family has since struggled to get answers about his death. Kelly Ghaisar reminded the panel that it took two years and a federal lawsuit for her family just to learn the names of the two officers who pursued and then shot her son.

Acting U.S. Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan told Congress in June that he is “not in a position” to adopt body-worn cameras.

Introducing Kelly Ghaisar to the subcommittee, Rep. Jennifer Wexton — a Democrat representing Virginia’s 10th District — told the panel that the family has received “no justice, no transparency and no accountability in his death.”

The panel also called out Park Police for a lack of cooperation as it investigates the failures and consequences of a lack of body-worn cameras.

“When we invited them to this hearing today, repeatedly, they refused to answer questions like these. They refused to even attend,” said Rep. TJ Cox, a Democrat representing California’s 21st District.

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