Virginia man’s death inspires proposed change in federal police body cam policy

There are renewed efforts to require federal police to wear body cameras.

It’s part of the House of Representatives police reform bill and inspired by Bijan Ghaisar, who was killed by two Park Police officers in 2017. The killing is still under investigation.

“I think it’s absolutely necessary and required to save a lot of lives and change a culture the way it is now,” said James Ghaisar, Bijan’s dad.

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Two Park Police officers shot and killed Bijan after a minor traffic accident. Bijan, who was Iranian, was unarmed and his family believes he may have been racially profiled. To this day there has not been a clear answer about what led up to officers opening fire, and because of the lack of body camera footage, it may never be known. The only video of what happened is dashcam footage from Fairfax County Police.

“It’s been an endless unending nightmare every single day,” said James. “Which I think is going to be through the rest of my life.”

Bijan Ghaisar

Virginia Rep. Don Beyer and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton have been pushing to require uniformed federal police to have body and dashboard cameras, and this week it was announced the bill they introduced last year would be added to the new police reform legislation.

“I think it has a very good chance of becoming law,” said Norton.

Norton said there’s been bipartisan support and new calls for accountability after use of force by federal officers during protests in D.C.

”When we saw federal police here in the nations capital they were unidentified,” she said. “They didn’t even have identification on them.”

For the Ghaisar family, the new law is long overdue and they’ll keep pushing to make it a reality in Bijan’s memory.

“The only thing I can do is work hard to make changes to save other lives,” said James.

The Dept. of Justice declined to prosecute the two Park Police officers, but they could still be charged in Fairfax County. The ocmmonwealth’s attorney says he has been working on the case since taking office in January and is making great progress.