From Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Representatives Gerry Connolly, Don Beyer, Jennifer Wexton, Raúl Grijalva and Eleanor Holmes Norton:
Bicameral Delegation Urges Justice Department To Reconsider Ghaisar Case
May 4, 2022 (Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA), Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and Gerry Connolly, and House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging that the U.S. Department of Justice reconsider the case of two U.S. Park Police officers who shot and killed Northern Virginian Bijan Ghaisar in 2017. Their request followed the recent decision by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares to drop an appeal in the case.
“We write today regarding the 2017 fatal shooting of 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar by two United States Park Police (USPP) officers. Nearly five years after the fatal shooting of Bijan, it remains unclear to the Ghaisar family, to us, and to the broader community of the National Capital Region, how a traffic stop escalated to a fatal shooting. While the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to pursue federal charges under the previous administration, we believe another look is warranted. Therefore, we respectfully request that DOJ reopen its investigation, pursue a vigorous analysis of the facts and law, and determine whether federal charges are merited.”
“As you know, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated this shooting in detail, interviewing more than 150 individuals (including law enforcement, civilian, and medical witnesses), analyzing evidence at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, and amassing an investigative file of some 10,000 documents. The focus of the Department’s investigation was to determine whether the officers had violated federal laws, in particular federal criminal civil rights statute 18 U.S.C. § 242. There is precedent for charges in a case like this, as DOJ’s Civil Rights Division pursued similar charges in the George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery cases.
“What’s more, we understand that Bijan Ghaisar’s family, through counsel, has requested that the Civil Rights Division revisit its decision declining to prosecute the officers who shot and killed him. We further understand that the Department is now in possession of sworn deposition testimony taken from briefs submitted in a civil action, which includes testimony from a senior U.S. Park Police officer and a Fairfax County Police officer that may cast new light on the events of that tragic evening.
“The decision to escalate to deadly force must be explained – it is unconscionable to think such a low-level offense could justify being shot to death by police. Bijan’s family, and the public, are entitled to due process and an explanation of why their son is dead that reflects full scrutiny of this situation at all levels of the justice system. We hope you will use all resources and personnel at your disposal to give this case a fair, honest look and decide what the proper form of justice for this tragedy should be.”
Text of their letter follows below and a signed copy of the letter is available here.