United States

FBI: ‘Premature' Release of Park Police Shooting Video Could Hurt Investigation

Officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, called on the FBI to release video of the shooting of a 25-year-old accountant by U.S. Park Police, but the FBI says releasing the video too early could hurt the investigation.

An FBI official said in a letter to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova that the time is not right to release video of the Nov. 17 shooting of Bijan Ghaisar.

"While evidentiary items possessed by the FBI are often of the public interest, the premature release of this video risks a fair, impartial and unbiased investigation," Andrew Vale, assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office wrote in the letter, which is dated Dec. 11.

U.S. Park Police chased Ghaisar on George Washington Parkway after he was suspected in a hit-and-run.

The McLean resident and Virginia Commonwealth University graduate was unarmed when police shot him in the head three times, according to his family.

"He presented no threat to anyone," the Ghaisar family previously said in a statement.

The FBI, which took the lead in the investigation, previously said they would not provide additional information because a federal investigation is ongoing. The FBI did not say why Park Police opened fire. Also, they did not comment on whether Ghaisar was armed.

Park Police pursued Ghaisar's SUV after a hit-and-run was reported in Alexandria, the agency said in a statement.

Officers tried to stop Ghaisar, who they suspected in the crime, but he "led United States Park Police officers on a vehicle pursuit," Park Police said.

The chase continued south on the parkway, into Fairfax County.

Park Police said they opened fire about 7:40 p.m. at Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue, an area with residential streets, about 6 miles south of the initial crash scene. At least one bullet hole could be seen in a window of the SUV.

Two Fairfax County police officers responded to the scene but fired no shots, the department said.

According to a Fairfax County Police Department dispatch call obtained by News4, Park Police opened fire, and then Ghaisar crashed his SUV.

"We're at Fort Hunt and Alexandria roads. Park Police are firing shots," an officer can be heard saying amid gunfire.

"Driver's in the car. He just drove off the road," the officer continues.

Ghaisar, the only person in the SUV, was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

After 10 days, he died.

Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler and Bulova each called on the FBI to release the video as quickly as possible.

Fairfax County officials were criticized for their lack of transparency after the Aug. 2013 police shooting of John Geer.

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