Statement of U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner on Dismissal of All Criminal Charges Against the Two U.S. Park Police Officers Involved in the 2017 Shooting Death of Bijan Ghaisar
Oct 22 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement today after a federal judge dismissed all charges against the two U.S. Park Police officers involved in the November 2017 shooting of Bijan Ghaisar:
“My heart is with Bijan’s parents, Kelly and James, and with all of his family and friends. Bijan’s death was a senseless tragedy and it never should have happened. It has been almost four years since Bijan was killed and his family still doesn’t have justice with which to carry on, or closure about what happened that night. I will continue to fight to ensure no other family has to experience this kind of pain.”
In January of 2018, Sen. Warner, along with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), pushed the FBI for an update on the status of its investigation into the fatal 2017 shooting. In October of that year, Sen. Warner sent a letter to the head of the National Park Service (NPS) regarding the circumstances under which U.S. Park Police officers engaged with Bijan.
In June of 2019, Sen. Warner along with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) decried the opaque and drawn-out nature of the review in letters to both the FBI and NPS. Two months later, the FBI provided a brief response, leaving many questions unanswered. In October, NPS provided a partial response, which prompted a follow-up letter from the Senators seeking more information.
In November 2019, the Senators pledged to seek greater transparency and formally requested an FBI briefing on its investigation into the shooting – shortly after the FBI concluded its lengthy investigation without fully explain its findings, including why the two officers opened fire on Ghaisar. In February 2020, Sen. Warner voted against the nomination of Katharine MacGregor to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior, and in May, announced that he would place a hold on future Department of the Interior nominees until he receives adequate responses to his questions surrounding the Park Service’s handling of the shooting. Later that July, Sen. Warner pressed NPS for answers regarding its internal affairs investigation into the killing of Bijan, and the following month, he joined Sen. Grassley in a letter expressing concern over the department’s refusal to answer a number of questions in a briefing. In October, Sen. Warner reiterated the need for justice after Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Steve T. Descano brought forth two charges against the officers.