VA Grand Jury Charges Federal Officers in Fatal Shooting

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Two U.S. Park Police officers were charged Thursday by a Virginia grand jury with manslaughter in the November 2017 shooting of unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar, marking the latest dramatic twist in a saga that has featured protests, congressional inquiries, an FBI investigation, civil suits and little explanation for the man’s violent death, the Washington Post reports. Officers Alejandro Amaya, 41, and Lucas Vinyard, 39, have been on paid administrative duty with the Park Police since shortly after the shooting. The Park Police have not begun an internal investigation, waiting for criminal charging decisions to be made by federal and local prosecutors. The officers were not taken into custody Thursday.

The officers claimed that Ghaisar drove his Jeep Grand Cherokee at Amaya while attempting to pull away from them, and that they shot him both in self-defense and to protect public safety. The fatal shooting of Ghaisar, a 25-year-old accountant, was captured on video by cameras inside two Fairfax County police cruisers that followed the Park Police officerso. The video shows Ghaisar slowly driving around the Park Police SUV, and the officers firing 10 times into his vehicle, striking him four times in the head. After an FBI investigation, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., concluded two years later that Vinyard and Amaya had not committed any federal criminal civil rights violations by fatally shooting Ghaisar. The case then shifted to Fairfax County, where a newly elected prosecutor presented the case to a special grand jury.

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