US Park Police accused of ‘stonewalling’ in shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar

Bijan Ghaisar, 25, was fatally shot by U.S. Park Police in November 2017. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Members of Congress are accusing U.S. Park Police of delaying “in every conceivable way” efforts to hold two officers accountable for the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar during a 2017 traffic stop on the George Washington Parkway.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Virginia Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton expressed frustration that it took eight months for them to receive a response this week from U.S. Park Police, after seeking an update on the case last November.

Norton on Friday called it a “non-response response,” with little new information.

She also said it may be time to take the case to “the next level,” suggesting she might call congressional hearings into the matter.

“We are seeing a police response to Congress that cannot be tolerated,” Norton told WTOP, noting the lawmakers are “disgusted.”

Ghaisar’s case has drawn the attention of lawmakers, who are frustrated at the lack of information that has been released during a lengthy investigation that began after he was fatally shot in November 2017.

Ghaisar, an accountant from McLean, Virginia, was shot in his vehicle after a slow-moving chase on the GW Parkway. There is video of the shooting, which came from a dashboard camera of a Fairfax County police car.

In the letter sent to lawmakers, Park Police note that the department doesn’t typically comment on investigations until they are complete. It states that the department “has begun evaluating next steps … and possible criminal action by the Fairfax County prosecutor’s office.”

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in January that his office would investigate Ghaisar’s death.

Two Park Police officers, Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard, were placed on administrative leave after the shooting, which occurred after the officers tried repeatedly to pull over Ghaisar. Ghaisar was shot several times in the head and was not armed.

“For far too long, the United States Park Police leadership has been stonewalling, delaying, and in every conceivable way doing what it can to avoid holding its officers accountable,” Norton said in a statement.

She said the letter from Park Police “is an insult to members of Congress because it tells us nothing more than we already knew.”

Beyer and Wexton also pledged to continue to push for answers.

“These stalling tactics will not deter us from pressing for the truth,” Wexton said in a statement. “There will be justice for Bijan.”

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