WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it will not pursue criminal civil rights charges in connection with the death of Bijan Ghaisar – a man who was shot to death by U.S. Park Police in the fall of 2017.
According to the department, prosecutors can’t “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the two officers committed willful violations of the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute when they shot Mr. Ghaisar.”
Ghaisar’s family filed a civil suit against the officers, Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard, in August 2018.
The officers say they acted in self defense.
Ghaisar was pursued by the officers that night after the 25-year-old McLean accountant left the scene of an accident.
Police dashcam video shows Ghaisar flee multiple times as they pursued him down the George Washington Parkway.
He was unarmed when police unloaded their weapons into his vehicle.
Ghaisar died at the hospital, 10 days after he was shot by Park Police.
Police have not revealed what prompted them to fire on Ghaisar.
Upon learning of the Department of Justice's decision, the Ghaisar family released a statement:
“We, along with everyone else who has seen the shocking video footage, watched two U.S. Park Police officers gun down our unarmed son and brother at close range on the side of the road.
“Today’s decision was a cowardly act by a Department of Justice that is afraid to hold law enforcement, especially federal law enforcement, accountable when it commits murder. The Department of Justice’s refusal to prosecute Officers Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya for killing Bijan after a minor traffic accident is another betrayal in this nightmare that began for us almost two years ago to the day.
“The Justice Department has given us no answers to why Bijan was killed. Instead, they have broken every promise made to us – from keeping us informed about the investigation to personally sharing the results before broadcasting it to the world to, most importantly, protecting Bijan. Let’s be clear about what happened here: Two people executed an American citizen who they were sworn to protect and serve, and the only reason they’re escaping justice is because they wear badges.
“We are not giving up on justice for Bijan. The Department may have failed to do its job with this investigation but there are other ways to ensure Officers Vinyard and Amaya be held accountable for killing Bijan. The Park Police must have an internal investigation. At the very least, these rogue officers should be fired. Other criminal charges and prosecution are also possible through the Commonwealth of Virginia. We demand justice -- and we will continue to fight for it until we get it.”