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US Park Police involved in fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar won’t face federal criminal civil rights charges

No federal criminal civil rights charges will be brought against the United States Park Police officers involved in the fatal shooting of unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Ghaisar, 25, was shot after he left the scene of a minor traffic accident in Northern Virginia in November 2017. According to an amended complaint his family filed in US District Court, Ghaisar was shot by USPP officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard.

Ghaisar, who was unarmed, was taken to a hospital, where he spent 10 days in a coma before dying on November 27, 2017.

The officers could not be reached for comment at the time they were identified.

“Based on the information available at this time, the Department cannot prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the two USPP officers committed willful violations of the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute when they shot Mr. Ghaisar,” the statement from the US Attorney’s Office says.

The office said it conducted an extensive investigation before deciding not to pursue charges. The FBI interviewed more than 150 individuals, the statement says, including law enforcement officers, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and civilian and medical witnesses.

USPP, a federal police force under the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior, said it is still reviewing the FBI’s findings.

“Any loss of life is tragic, and the loss of Bijan Ghaisar has impacted many people, including his family, friends, and our community,” the department said in a statement. “At this time, the USPP is reviewing the findings of the FBI’s investigation.”

Ghaisar’s family, in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WJLA, said that the department escaped accountability.

“Today’s decision was a cowardly act by a Department of Justice that is afraid to hold law enforcement, especially federal law enforcement, accountable when it commits murder,” the statement said. “The Justice Department has given us no answers to why Bijan was killed. Instead, they have broken every promise made to us — from keeping us informed about the investigation to personally sharing the results before broadcasting it to the world to, most importantly, protecting Bijan.”

The shooting

The November 17, 2017 incident began when Ghaisar was rear-ended while driving south on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Ghaisar left the scene in his vehicle, which is illegal in Virginia if there has been an injury or property damage. It is unclear why he left.

USPP officers began to pursue Ghaisar, who is seen on dashcam footage released by Fairfax County police pulling over three times as officers chased him.

Officers exited their vehicle with their guns drawn and pointed at Ghaisar each time he pulled over. Twice, he maneuvered his vehicle around the police and drove away.

The third time he stopped, however, the officers fired into Ghaisar’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. The family has said he was struck in the head four times. Incident reports from Fairfax County police confirm that he was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Ghaisar was taken to a hospital where he died 10 days later.

Officers identified more than 16 months later

Amaya and Vinyard were identified almost a year and a half after the shooting took place.

The Ghaisar family pressed the US Park Police and the FBI for months to get answers about the incident and the officers involved. According to their amended complaint the family learned the identities after it issued a subpoena to the Fairfax County Police Department, whose officers were at the scene of the shooting assisting US Park Police.

Fairfax County police produced documents indicating the officers involved were Amaya and Vinyard, the complaint says.

Counsel for the US Park Police subsequently confirmed their identities to the Ghaisar family on March 12, according to the complaint.

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