ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Lawyers for two U.S. Park Police officers are hoping to persuade a federal judge their clients have immunity from local prosecutors' efforts to charge them with manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed motorist in 2017.
A hearing is scheduled Monday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria in the case against officers Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya. The two shot and killed 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar of McLean after a stop-and-go chase on the George Washington Memorial Parkway outside the nation's capital.
After a two-year investigation, federal prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges. A Fairfax County prosecutor then obtained indictments against the pair for involuntary manslaughter, but lawyers for Vinyard and Amaya say their status as federal officers gives them immunity from local prosecution.
"They are the ones who terrorized my son," Ghaisar's mother, Kelly Ghaisar told WUSA9 back in April after a judge ruled to move the case against Vinyard and Amaya to federal court. "They are the ones when he was bleeding and his car was in the ditch, they kept shooting at his head still. So I don't know how I can explain how a human would feel. No one has cared for the truth or justice. All we have heard is delay, lies and coverups."
State and local prosecutors pursuing the manslaughter charge say the immunity does not apply when the officers' actions in pursuing and shooting Ghaisar were improper and extended beyond their reasonable roles as police officers.
According to the State's Attorney's Office, Judge Claude Hilton heard arguments from both the state and the defendants' attorneys Monday. Hilton says he will think over the arguments and give a written ruling in the coming days.