Members of Congress Ask DOJ to Reopen Park Police Shooting Case

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Seven members of Congress are asking U.S. Attorney Gen. Merrick Garland to reopen the investigation into the U.S. Park Police shooting of Bijan Ghaisar, a driver killed in Fairfax County in 2017. 

Lawmakers cite statements made in a civil suit as the reason the case should get another look. They argue Garland has already reversed decisions made by the previous administration and should do so in this case.

“We further understand that the department is now in possession of sworn deposition testimony […] that may cast new light on the events of that tragic evening,” the letter dated May 4 says. 

The lawmakers are referring to a statement made in a sworn deposition by former Park Police chief Robert MacLean, who said it would have been against Park Police policy to chase Ghaisar for a minor traffic violation. MacLean made the statement after the FBI’s two-year investigation concluded. 

The letter was signed by Rep. Don Beyer, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, Sen Tim Kaine, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Jennifer Wexton.

The lawmakers also said there is conflicting testimony from the Fairfax County police officer whose dash cam recorded the shooting. 

Less than two weeks ago, new Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares dropped the state’s federal appeal of the manslaughter case against the officers who shot Ghaisar. 

Ghaisar was shot and killed in 2017 as he sat behind the wheel of his Jeep and slowly pulled away from Officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard. The shooting was captured on video. 

The officers were indicted by a Fairfax County grand jury after DOJ declined to file charges.

But the case was eventually dismissed by a federal court judge after the officers argued they had immunity under the supremacy clause of the Constitution.

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner said it would be unusual for the Justice Department to reopen a closed case.

“It’s unusual but it’s not unprecedented. Ordinarily it happens when some new information is developed that, you know, maybe provides some additional information that would lead to the Department of Justice wanting to revisit an old determination,” he said. 

Amaya and Vinyard are still on paid administrative leave, though the Interior Department has moved to fire them.

In a statement to News4 Ghaisar’s mother said: “We are grateful to the members of Congress who have made this request and hope Attorney General Merrick Garland sees that justice for Bijan is way overdue.” 

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