The Fairfax County Police Department has released video of Park Police officers shooting Bijan Ghaisar after a police chase that ended on Fort Hunt Road last November 17.
The video, taken from a Fairfax County Police cruiser involved in the chase, shows Park Police officers shooting what appears to be nine rounds at Ghaisar after his vehicle began to slowly move forward after stopping at the intersection of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue. No Fairfax County officers fired their weapons.
Ghaisar, 25, died 10 days after the shooting.
The video, which runs for four minutes and 23 seconds, shows Ghaisar’s Jeep Cherokee being pursued southbound on the George Washington Parkway and then onto Alexandria Avenue until Ghaisar stopped at the intersection of Fort Hunt Road. Ghaisar stopped three times during the course of the pursuit — including once on the GW Parkway and once on West Boulevard Drive after exiting the Parkway — but drives off each time as a Park Police officer approached his door.
When Ghaisar stopped for a third time at Fort Hunt Road, Park Police officers pulled of one their SUVs ahead Ghaisar’s Jeep to block it from driving off again. One officer exits the SUV and then approaches the driver’s side of Ghaisar’s vehicle. When the Ghaisar’s Jeep begins to slowly move forward and to the right, as if he’s trying to go around the Park Police SUV, the officer appears to fire five rounds at Ghaisar.
Ghairsar’s Jeep then stops and a second Park Police officer approaches. When Ghaisar’s vehicle rolls forward again, the second officer appears to fire two more shots. The vehicle stops again briefly and then continues to slowly roll, and two more shots are fired. At that point the Jeep rolls into a roadside ditch at a steep angle and the video ends.
More than 25 seconds elapsed between the first and last shots fired.
The Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler said Wednesday the he was released the video as a matter of transparency, and said he had full confidence in the FBI’s ongoing investigation.
“As a matter of transparency to all in our community, especially the Ghaisar family, and as the administrative custodian of the video, I am releasing the in-car video of the U.S. Park Police shooting,” Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roesser said in a statement. “The video does not provide all the answers. However, we should all have confidence in the FBI’s investigation of this matter as I know it will be thorough, objective and professional.”
According to the Park Police, Ghaisar was involved in a fender-bender accident on the GW Parkway near Slaters Lane in Alexandria. He drove away from the scene, and then was spotted driving south on the Parkway south of the City of Alexandria, starting the chase.
The Park Police have not released the names of the officers involved in the shooting, nor have they made a public statement about why the officers opened fire on Ghaisar.
Family and friends of Ghaisar’s have said that he was unarmed and have demanded to know why the 25-year-old accountant from McLean was shot. Ghaisar’s family released the following statement Wednesday through their attorney, Roy Austin:
“This disturbing video shows the senseless killing of a young man at the hands of those charged with protecting public safety. Bijan Ghaisar was repeatedly threatened by over-aggressive and out-of-control law enforcement officers, after he drove away from a minor traffic incident in which he was the victim and in which there was little property damage and no known injuries.
No one was even close to being in harm’s way until a pair of U.S. Park Police officers repeatedly shot Bijan at close range as he sat, unarmed, in his Jeep on a residential street. We don’t know why the U.S. Park Police officers shot Bijan multiple times, or whether those officers are still patrolling the area’s parkways. What we do know is that justice demands that those responsible for taking Bijan’s life answer for this illegal and unconstitutional killing.
The family is grateful to Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler for all he has done to ensure the appropriate amount of transparency throughout this process.”
Rep. Don Beyer (D-8), who has been critical of the lack of transparency surrounding the Ghaisar case, issued a statement Wednesday thanking the Fairfax County Police for releasing the video. He called it “an important step” towards finding out all the facts of the Ghaisar case, and said he will continue to push for more information.
“I have been in close contact with Bijan Ghaisar’s family and also with the FBI, and will continue to press authorities conducting an ongoing investigation to reveal the facts of this case in a timely manner,” Beyer said. “The police video raises further questions about the decision to use lethal force, and law enforcement authorities owe it to Mr. Ghaisar’s family and the community they serve to answer those questions.”
U.S. Park Police Chief of Police Robert MacLean also issued a statement following the release of the video Wednesday, but did not comment directly about the content of the video.
“While respecting the integrity of the investigation, I also recognize the desire for more information and details surrounding the investigation and the death of 25-year-old,” MacLean said. “Public and community trust remain paramount to our agency and profession.”