FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Top prosecutors in Virginia, including the state's Attorney General, are calling on the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to reconsider the decision made under the Trump administration to decline federal prosecution in the 2017 shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar involving two U.S. Park Police officers.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano penned the letter to Garland which also asks the DOJ to grant authority for the federal agents that investigated the case to "speak freely" with attorneys from their offices, to allow such agents to be called as witness and to allow their offices access to all physical evidence collected and currently held by federal agents.
"The dash camera footage showing yet another young person of color being killed by law enforcement resulted in a cry for answers and justice that emanated not just from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but from across this country," the letter reads. "Sadly, the most significant impediment to answering that cry was the Trump Administration."
The two U.S. Park Police officers who were charged in connection with the shooting death of Ghaisar, Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard, were released on their own recognizance following their arraignment in Fairfax County in October 2020.
"In October 2020, under the request of the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney, a special grand jury was convened in the Fairfax County Circuit Court and returned indictments against the Park Police Officers involved in the incident," the letter says. "However, on April 23, 2021, a federal court judge ordered the removal of the case from Fairfax County Circuit Court to federal court thus providing the defendants the opportunity to file motions to dismiss the indictments based on Supremacy Clause immunity."
The letter also says that this past Friday, the district court judge overseeing the case scheduled an evidentiary hearing on Supremacy Clause immunity which means the defendants will file motions to dismiss on June 14, the Commonwealth will file a response on July 15, the defendants will file reply briefs on July 30, and the evidentiary hearing will begin on August 23, 2021.
"The case now stands at a pivotal juncture," the letter reads. "This administration has expressed a genuine commitment to criminal justice reform, accountability, and racial equity. Few cases touch on these issues as squarely as this case does. Therefore, we have decided to request that our federal partners in justice finally look at this case with those principles in mind. We are asking the Department to re-examine the decisions made by the Trump Administration with respect to this case."