Statement of U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Chuck Grassley on the decision by the Department of Justice not to pursue charges against the officers who shot and killed Bijan Ghaisar
Nov 14 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today issued the following statement after an announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that it will not pursue action against the U.S. Park Police officers who shot and killed Fairfax County resident Bijan Ghaisar in 2017:
“The Ghaisar family has experienced so much pain over the last two years, not just in coping with the loss of their beloved son and brother Bijan, but also in trying to understand what led to his death. Today’s announcement by the Department of Justice that it will not be pursuing federal civil rights criminal charges against the police officers who shot and killed an unarmed man will only add to this family’s heartbreak. The Department’s statement also adds to the long list of questions that remain unanswered years later, despite a two-year investigation.
“The Ghaisars deserve to understand what happened to Bijan. To that end, we will be formally requesting a briefing within the next 30 days from the Department of Justice to understand what went into the decision not to pursue charges in this case. We will continue to closely follow this case, including whether state or local charges are filed, or an internal affairs investigation is opened.”
Earlier this month, Sens. Warner and Grassley wrote to the acting director of the National Park Service with a series of questions regarding the U.S. Park Police’s policies and guidelines around officer-involved shooting incidents and vehicle pursuit, and the Ghaisar investigation. Additionally, in June, the Senators called on the FBI and the National Park Service to improve transparency surrounding their review of the Ghaisar shooting. In January 2018, Sen. Warner, along with U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), pushed the FBI for an update on the status of the FBI’s investigation into the Ghaisar shooting. That April, the FBI responded that it would not discuss an active investigation. Sen. Warner has also pressed the National Park Service regarding the circumstances under which U.S. Park Police officers engaged with Mr. Ghaisar, and has talked with leaders from both the National Park Service and the FBI to encourage full transparency regarding this incident.