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Norton, Beyer, Wexton Urge Park Police Internal Investigation on Killing of Bijan Ghaisar

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From Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA08), Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA10) and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC):

Norton, Beyer, Wexton Urge Park Police Internal Investigation on Killing of Bijan Ghaisar

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), and Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) released a letter today urging the U.S. Park Police to open an internal investigation into the killing of Bijan Ghaisar. Yesterday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would not pursue legal action against the officers who shot and killed Ghaisar. They request a response in writing no later than December 5th on whether the Park Police will conduct an internal investigation, its scope, the duty status of the officers, and any investigation’s expected completion date.

In the letter, they write: “With the conclusion of the Department of Justice review, U.S. Park Police must open an internal investigation. We ask that the investigation consider personnel sanctions, including possible termination, for the two officers in question. The investigation should review the Park Police’s policies and practices for body and dashboard cameras, vehicle pursuits and use of force. The Park Police owe the results of this investigation to the Ghaisars, Congress and the public.”

Since the shooting, Norton and Beyer have introduced bills to require uniformed federal police officers to wear body cameras and to require federal police officers to participate with local and state task forces, regardless of whether those local forces wear body cameras. Since the latter bill was introduced, the Justice Department announced a pilot program for body-worn cameras by federally deputized task force officers.

The full text of the letter is below.

November 15, 2019

Gregory Monahan
Acting Chief
United States Park Police
1100 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, DC 20024

Dear Acting Chief Monahan:

We ask that you open an internal investigation into the shooting death by U.S. Park Police of 25-year-old Virginian Bijan Ghaisar, and we request an update on the status of officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard.

Police officers are charged with protecting public safety. The public places trust in local law enforcement to keep them safe from harm. Because of the actions documented on video by Fairfax County, Virginia police on November 17, 2017, the public cannot trust that officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard will keep them safe, and that they will protect the community from harm. Consequently, the local community deserves to know the status of the officers in question and whether there is a plan to return law enforcement powers to these officers.

With the conclusion of the Department of Justice review, U.S. Park Police must open an internal investigation. We ask that the investigation consider personnel sanctions, including possible termination, for the two officers in question. The investigation should review the Park Police’s policies and practices for body and dashboard cameras, vehicle pursuits and use of force. The Park Police owe the results of this investigation to the Ghaisars, Congress and the public.

Please respond in writing no later than December 5, 2019, on whether the Park Police will conduct the internal investigation, the scope of the investigation, the duty status of the officers during the investigation and the expected date of completion of the investigation.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Donald S. Beyer, Jr.

Jennifer Wexton