Park Police chief in Ghaisar killing to oversee task force on Interior Department law enforcement

After a report that criticized the U.S. Park Police response to Black Lives Matter protests in Lafayette Square in June 2020, a task force is being formed to study law enforcement in the Interior Department.

The task force, ordered by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, will be led by Robert MacLean, who was chief of U.S. Park Police when two of its officers shot and killed unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar in Fairfax County in 2017.

MacLean is currently the director of the Interior Department’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security.

In a memo, Haaland said the task force will “identify meaningful solutions to assist law enforcement and communities in strengthening trust and collaboration.”

Federal authorities investigated the shooting for two years and revealed little of what they found; they ultimately decided against filing criminal charges against the two officers who shot Ghaisar — Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya.

Ghaisar was fatally shot by the officers in November 2017 following a chase on the George Washington Parkway in Northern Virginia, after a fender bender in which Ghaisar’s car was rear-ended.

Dashcam video released by Fairfax County police, who played a supporting role in the chase, shows the chase beginning on the parkway before turning into a residential neighborhood. It shows the car driven by Ghaisar stopping twice during the chase, and officers approaching the car with guns drawn. In both cases, Ghaisar drives off.

At the third and final stop, officers with guns drawn approach the car at the driver-side door. When the car starts to move again, gunshots are heard. The car starts to drift into a ditch, and two more sets of two gunshots are heard.

In court documents made public as part of a civil suit filed by Ghaisar’s family, Vinyard told FBI agents who interviewed him after the shooting that he and Amaya gave Ghaisar “chance after chance” to surrender peacefully before opening fire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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