(Fairfax County Police image)
Fort Hunt Road is closed between Baltimore Drive and Paul Spring Parkway as FBI agents conduct an investigation at the scene where Park Police officers shot a 25-year-old man last November.
Authorities began their work at the scene around 9 a.m. this morning, according to reporters who are on the scene.
It has been more than seven months since Bijan Ghaisar was shot at the intersection of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue following a police chase on the evening of Nov. 17. Video released by the Fairfax County Police — who were involved in the chase but not the shooting — showed Park Police officers firing a total of nine shots at Ghaisar after he began to slowly drive around them at the intersection.
Ghaisar died from his wounds 10 days later. His family has said that he was unarmed.
The investigation was turned over to the FBI, and has been shrouded in secrecy as it has dragged on for months. No reason has been given for why officers opened fire, and the names of the two officers have not been released. Arlington County has also refused to release 911 calls related to the fender bender that Ghaisar was involved in prior to the chase.
Ghaisar’s family has held numerous protests to bring attention to the issue, and local politicians — including Rep. Don Beyer and State Sen. Scott Surovell — have pushed for more transparency in the case, to little avail. A spokesman for Beyer’s office said the congressman did not have advance warning of today’s activities, and that he would be releasing a statement once they had more information.
Pictures posted by WTOP reporter Neal Augenstein showed investigators taking pictures, combing a wooded area near the scene and moving a Jeep Grand Cherokee similar to Ghaisar’s vehicle into place at the scene.
It’s not clear if this is the first time FBI investigators have been to the scene of the shooting; the bureau released a short statement with few details.
“We are conducting law enforcement activity in the vicinity of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue and will be in the area for a number of hours,” FBI spokeswoman Kadia Koroma said. “As our work is ongoing, we have no further comment.”
Ghaisar’s family released a statement this morning, reiterating their frustration with the lack of transparency and slow pace of the investigation.
“On a November night last year, two U.S. Park Police officers shot our son and brother as he sat unarmed in his Jeep on the side of the road,” the family said. “They fired nine times, hitting him with four bullets to the head and one to the wrist. Our funny, loving Bijan died 10 days later. In the more than 200 days since then, the lack of any transparency and accountability around his killing or who did it has been devastating for our family — second only to the unimaginable anguish of losing him forever. We hope the events today are an indication of progress in the investigation and a step closer toward justice for a young man whose bright future was needlessly taken.”
Fairfax County Police say they are not sure when Fort Hunt Road will reopen. The closure forced the Fairfax Connector bus service to skip numerous stops, according to a tweet from the service:
The road closure also comes a day after Fort Hunt Road and other area thoroughfares had horrific traffic backups, which were primarily caused by the fatal crash and ensuing fires on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge yesterday morning.
This story has been updated to include comment from the FBI.