FAIRFAX, Va. — A federal judge has dismissed all criminal charges against two U.S Park Police officers who shot and killed an unarmed 25-year-old in 2017 during a police pursuit. Bijan Ghaisar died after being shot multiple times by U.S. Park Police officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard on Nov. 17, 2017, according to police.
Judge Claude Hilton granted both Amaya and Vinyard's motion to dismiss, stating that both officers were entitled to "Supremacy Clause immunity." Hilton wrote that "the officers' actions were necessary and proper" and said that "Ghaisar's actions placed [their] lives] in imminent, life-threatening danger."
"We intend to appeal this decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals because we do not believe the law allows an individual to circumvent the accountability of the criminal justice system simply because of who their employer is," Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a joint statement. "We believe that a jury should have the opportunity to hear all of the evidence and determine whether these men committed a crime when they shot and killed Bijan Ghaisar.”
Officials said Ghaisar had gotten into a fender-bender on the George Washington Parkway in Alexandria the night of Nov. 17, 2017. They said he was not at fault for the accident, but he left the scene.
Police said the two U.S. Park Police officers followed Ghaisar and pulled him over. Video released by the Fairfax County Police Department shows that Ghaisar took off and stopped two more times before the officers fired nine shots into his car.
The DOJ said those shots ended up killing him. Police said Ghaisar was unarmed and had no drugs in his car. Both Amaya and Vinyard have claimed self-defense in response to the family's wrongful death lawsuit.
The officers asked for months for their case to be moved from state court to federal, where the law grants them more immunity for actions taken while on the job. In April 2021, a judge agreed but ruled it would still be heard by Judge Hilton and argued by the state of Virginia.
"They are the ones who terrorized my son," Ghaisar's mother, Kelly Ghaisar. told a WUSA9 reporter back in July. "They are the ones when he was bleeding and his car was in the ditch, they kept shooting at his head still ... No one has cared for the truth or justice. All we have heard is delay, lies and coverups."