Bijan Ghaisar’s family reaches $5M settlement in 2017 US Park Police shooting

The family of the unarmed Virginia man shot and killed by U.S. Park Police officers in 2017 after a traffic stop has reached a $5 million settlement with the federal government, according to a court filing in the case.

The Washington Post first reported on the filing.

Bijan Ghaisar’s mother and father filed the wrongful death lawsuit in 2018, seeking $25 million.

The settlement still must be approved by the judge overseeing the case. A hearing has been scheduled for April 28 in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

The settlement calls for about $1.25 million to be paid in attorney’s fees, and $3.75 million to be paid to the family to be distributed to various charities, according to the filing.

The settlement likely caps years of legal action related to Ghaisar’s killing.

In 2019, the U.S. Justice Department declined to bring federal charges against the two officers who opened fire on the 25-year-old accountant, arguing there wasn’t enough evidence to disprove the officers’ claims that they acted in self-defense.

Manslaughter charges in Virginia against officers Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya, originally filed by Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano in 2020, were moved to federal court and then dismissed by a judge.

Both officers had claimed immunity, invoking the Supremacy Clause, which argues that federal officers cannot be prosecuted for state crimes they committed while carrying out their official duties if the officer “reasonably thought” the actions were necessary and proper.

Last year, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said that he would no longer pursue the case.

Last May, Ghaisar’s parents — James and Kelly Ghaisar — along with seven members of Congress called on the Justice Department to reopen its investigation, saying that the civil suit filed by the family had uncovered additional evidence.

However, the department declined to do so, saying there wasn’t enough evidence” to establish that the officers had willfully used unreasonable force.

The Ghaisar family has repeatedly pushed for greater transparency, including in the initial months after the shooting, after the U.S. Park Police refused to identify the officers involved or release other details about the shooting.

The officers pursued Ghaisar in November 2017, after he drove away from a fender-bender in Alexandria, in which his Jeep was the vehicle that had been struck by another driver.

The officers followed him down the George Washington Parkway, signaling for him to pull over, which he did twice before driving off. At the third stop, in a residential neighborhood, as the Jeep drifted forward, the two officers fired their weapons 10 times.

The officers that night said they believed that Ghaisar was under the influence after he failed to pull over, continued speeding, and did not acknowledge the officers when they pulled alongside him despite lights, sirens and verbal commands, according to court documents.

Dashcam video released by Fairfax County police showed officers firing into Ghaisar’s vehicle. At the time, Park Police officers were not equipped with body cameras.

After Bijan Ghaisar’s death, lawmakers and the Ghaisar family pushed for the Department of the Interior, under which the Park Police falls, to equip all officers with body cameras, which they did back in 2021. Bijan Ghaisar’s shooting was not cited as the reason for rolling out a body camera program.

WTOP staff contributed to this report.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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