U.S. Park Police Cleared of Criminal Charges in Shooting

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Federal prosecutors have decided not to file any criminal charges against two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot an unarmed motorist in Virginia, The Washington Post reports. U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu of Washington, D.C., made the announcement just days before the second anniversary of the shooting, saying prosecutors could not prove the officers committed a “willful violation” of civil rights law. But her statement did not explain why the men shot into a vehicle as it drove away from them.

The family of Bijan Ghaisar, which has sued the officers in federal court in Alexandria, and a number of elected officials expressed outrage both at the decision and the lack of any explanation for the shooting. Officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard pursued Ghaisar, an accountant, down George Washington Memorial Parkway shortly after 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17, 2017, after he left a fender bender in Alexandria. Ghaisar, 25, briefly stopped twice and then drove away each time as the officers ran toward him with guns drawn, video released by Fairfax County police shows. After a third stop, Ghaisar again pulled away as Vinyard and Amaya aimed their guns at him, the video shows, and the officers fired nine times into Ghaisar’s Jeep. “The Justice Department failed our community for two years by withholding answers about why police killed Bijan Ghaisar, but this final failure is the worst of all,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who had helped the family push for answers and sponsored legislation requiring federal police to use cameras. The Ghaisars were hopeful that, if federal authorities declined charges, the Fairfax County prosecutor would take up the case. Newly elected Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano declined to comment Thursday on whether he would investigate the shooting.

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