9 AGs back appeal of dismissed charges against officers who killed Ghaisar

Three months after a federal judge ruled two U.S. Park Police officers were immune from charges in the killing of unarmed Virginia driver Bijan Ghaisar, nine attorneys general are asking a higher court to reconsider.

After state prosecutors in Virginia appealed a U.S. district judge’s decision finding federal officers Lucas Amaya and Alejandro Amaya immune from local charges in the unarmed driver’s killing, the attorneys general filed a brief supporting that appeal.

In 2017, two U.S. Park Police officers who patrol the federal George Washington Parkway pursued the 25-year-old McLean man, after he left the scene of a minor traffic accident in which he had been rear-ended.

The pursuit ended off the parkway when the officers approached Ghaisar between their cruiser and a ditch. Dash cam video viewed in court showed that when Ghaisar’s car then began to inch away from them at low speed, Vineyard and Amaya fired multiple shots through the windshield. Ghaisar sustained several gunshot wounds and later died of his injuries at the hospital.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine led the brief and was joined by the attorneys general of Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Racine said he finds it unclear why a federal judge found the Supremacy Clause applied to the federal officers, shielding them from state charges because they were acting in their official capacity.

“We need the court to clarify the standards for granting immunity to federal officers to ensure states can still seek justice when crimes are committed within their borders,” Racine said in a statement. “This is particularly important to the District because so many federal law enforcement agencies operate here. And I hope Virginia’s new attorney general will continue to pursue this case.”

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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