Va. attorney general stops seeking prosecution of US Park Police officers in fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar

Two US Park Police officers have been charged with manslaughter in the 2017 shooting of Bijan Ghaisar.(The Ghaisar Family)
The Virginia Attorney General has decided to end the pursuit of prosecution against the two U.S. Park Police officers accused of killing Bijan Ghaisar.

Last October, a federal court tossed out involuntary manslaughter charges against U.S. Park Police officers Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya who fatally shot the unarmed Ghaisar

“We agree with the results of the extensive review conducted by the Department of Justice, and the analysis of the United States District Court,” said Attorney General Jason Miyares.

“In light of all the circumstances of the life-or-death situation confronting them, Officers Amaya and Vinyard acted reasonably in their use of force, and did no more than was necessary and proper to perform their lawful duties as federal officers.”

The FBI closed its 16-month investigation into Ghaisar’s death in 2019, almost two years to the day he was killed, finding insufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers “willfully committed a violation” and could not disprove a claim of self-defense.

The Ghaisar family said through their lawyer Thomas G. Connolly that they are disappointed in the decision.

“By overriding the decision of the grand jury, AG Miyares has substituted his own political calculations for the judgment of the citizens of Fairfax County who heard the evidence and decided to indict these two officers for killing Bijan Ghaisar. It is a tragedy that in this Commonwealth, justice is decided not by the evidence but by the political whims of a novice AG,” they said in a statement.

Miyares said he decided to ask the Fourth Circuit Court to dismiss the Commonwealth’s appeal.

“I will not perpetuate the continued prosecution of two officers who were doing what they were trained to do under tremendously difficult circumstances,” Miyares said. “The events of November 17, 2017, were undoubtedly tragic. I am saddened by what happened and the pain it has caused.

“But persecuting the police was the wrong response. We will not make our Commonwealth safer by vilifying the hard-working men and women who put on the uniform and shield every day and protect our families, homes, and businesses.”

Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., said Miyares’ decision is “misguided” and “deeply disappointing.”

“Attorney General Miyares’ misguided decision to drop this case denies justice to the Ghaisar family. A local grand jury reviewed the evidence and handed down indictments which Miyares just summarily overruled. This will cause great pain in our community,” Beyer said.

“My heart goes out to the Ghaisars, who I know will meet this deeply disappointing and upsetting decision with grace and determination. Their struggle has been long, and they have my support as it continues.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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