Dash cam video released from U.S. Park Police shooting that killed Virginia man
WARNING: This story contains video that may not be suitable for all viewers
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (ABC7) — The dash camera video was released Wednesday from the November U.S. Park Police shooting that killed a 25-year-old McLean man after a police chase and crash in Fairfax County.
U.S. Park Police say on the night of Nov. 17, 2017, Bijan C. Ghaisar left the scene of an accident near Slaters Lane and the George Washington Parkway in Alexandria. They began chasing his Jeep a short time later on the Parkway. Fairfax County Police joined the chase, which ended in the Fort Hunt area on Fort Hunt Road near its intersection with Alexandria Avenue when Ghaisar was shot multiple times at close range by Park Police.
The video was recorded on the dash cam of a Fairfax County Police car that joined in the pursuit and shows Park Police trying to pull Ghaisar over twice before the third stop ended in gunfire. Officers are seen stopping Ghaisar near the side of the road and trying to open up the driver's side door before Ghaisar drives away. Police appear to try to pull Ghaisar over a second time, partially blocking the road with their car. The officers then approach the driver's side of the Jeep and Ghaisar is seen driving off again. Officers are later seen stopping Ghaisar for a third time at a stop sign, driving in front of the man's Jeep. At least one officer got out and stood in front of Ghaisar's car with a gun drawn.
Then, Ghaisar starts to pull forward in his Jeep and the sound of gunshots are heard. Ghaisar appears to try to drive forward multiple times and police shoot at the Jeep each time he does so, until the Jeep stops and partially rolls on its side.
Watch the full video below.
“As a matter of transparency to all in our community, especially the Ghaisar family, and as the administrative custodian of the video, I am releasing the in-car video of the U.S. Park Police shooting," said Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler.
Roessler says that no Fairfax County officers fired their weapons during the encounter. Three officers can be seen in the video with their guns drawn.
Ghaisar's family says he was shot three times in the head and was unarmed. Shortly after the video was released, Ghaisar's family put out a statement, saying the video shows Ghaisar's "senseless killing" and how he was "threatened by over-aggressive and out-of-control law enforcement officers."
Their full statement can be found below.
Park Police released their own statement Wednesday in response to the video. In it, Park Police Chief Robert MacLean says that "public and community trust remain paramount to our agency and profession.”
“While respecting the integrity of the investigation," MacLean said, "I also recognize the desire for more information and details surrounding the investigation and the death of 25-year-old, Bijan Ghaisar.”
Roessler had said in December that a dash cam from one of his squad cars captured the shooting on video, and he urged that video to be made public after the FBI was done interviewing all the officers involved that night. The video was later turned over to the FBI.
On Wednesday evening, the FBI released the following statement in reference to this incident:
“We understand that the public has many questions that they would like answers to however, commenting at this time could compromise the integrity of an ongoing investigation.“
Both of Virginia's senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, called the video of Ghaisar's death "disturbing."
I am deeply troubled by the disturbing footage of repeated shots fired at Bijan Ghaisar by U.S. Park Police. My staff has met with Bijan's family, and I am calling on the FBI to further investigate and provide details on the events surrounding this shooting. Bijan's family deserves full transparency and answers to their outstanding questions about the death of their son.
The footage of Bijan Ghaisar's death released today is disturbing. My staff has met with Mr. Ghaisar's family, and I believe they deserve answers about the circumstances under which U.S. Park Police Officers engaged with Mr. Ghaisar during this incident, including repeatedly firing into his vehicle and ending his life. I plan to press the FBI to fully investigate this matter in the most transparent way possible.