Lawyers for the U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot an unarmed motorist in 2017 after a stop-and-go chase in Northern Virginia filed a motion to dismiss the case Monday.
An evidentiary hearing to determine whether the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar can avoid prosecution was supposed to last all week and involve several witnesses, but it ended after a few hours.
Defense attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying Officers Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya have immunity against state prosecution for Ghaisar's death.
The U.S. District Court Judge heard from both sides and said he would issue a written ruling at a later date.
Instead of hearing witnesses, the judge listened to arguments from each side.
Attorneys for the officers said what they did that night in pursuing and shooting Ghaisar was necessary and appropriate to protect the public and themselves.
Fairfax County prosecutors said the officers did everything wrong, from pulling their guns to initiating a pursuit. When they played the dashcam video from Fairfax County police, Ghaisar’s mother looked down, and her husband left the courtroom.
Ghaisar was pursued after leaving the scene of a fender bender he did not cause.
“I think that people don’t understand how much of a physical toll it takes to go through something like this,” Negeen Ghaisar said. “It’s one thing that I lost my brother and that he was murdered and my parents lost their son. It’s another to wake up to this nightmare every single day.”
She said no matter how long it takes, she’ll be there to see justice for her brother.
Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descanso said he had a hunch the hearing would not go as planned.
“This is the type of hearing that we expected after reading the briefs in our quest to get this in front of a jury,” he said.
After the Department of Justice declined to pursue charges against the officers, they were indicted on manslaughter in Fairfax County, but the officers claim they have immunity under the Constitution’s supremacy laws.
Attorneys for the Ghaisar family said no matter what the judge rules, it will likely be appealed.