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Virginia attorney general effectively ends criminal case of Bijan Ghaisar, man killed by US Park Police

AG Miyares said Officers Amaya and Vinyard 'acted reasonably in their use of force, and did no more than was necessary and proper...'

RICHMOND, Va. — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from a vigil held by Ghaisar's family in November 2021.

The final attempt to prosecute two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar in 2017 ended Friday, as Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares dropped the state's appeal of the manslaughter case. 

Miyares echoed language used last year when a federal judge dismissed all criminal charges against two U.S. Park Police, saying the actions taken by Officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard were "necessary and proper" in the shooting incident that killed 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. 

On Friday, Miyares halted the state’s federal appeal in the case, which stops the efforts to criminally prosecute the officers. He released a statement Friday explaining his decision to order the Fourth Circuit to dismiss the Commonwealth’s appeal.  

“I, alongside my team of seasoned, dedicated prosecutors, all of whom are longtime members of the Virginia Bar and have over 75 years of experience, reviewed the evidence in the case against then-Federal Officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard. We agree with the results of the extensive review conducted by the Department of Justice, and the analysis of the United States District Court. In light of all the circumstances of the life-or-death situation confronting them, Officers Amaya and Vinyard acted reasonably in their use of force, and did no more than was necessary and proper to perform their lawful duties as federal officers. 

"I have therefore decided to ask the Fourth Circuit to dismiss the Commonwealth’s appeal. I will not perpetuate the continued prosecution of two officers who were doing what they were trained to do under tremendously difficult circumstances.

"The events of November 17, 2017, were undoubtedly tragic. I am saddened by what happened and the pain it has caused. But persecuting the police was the wrong response. We will not make our Commonwealth safer by vilifying the hard-working men and women who put on the uniform and shield every day and protect our families, homes, and businesses. Prosecutors need to prosecute criminals, not cops doing what they were trained to do. I am proud to support the brave men and women in blue who risk their lives to protect ours. 

"Police officers perform their duties every day in the face of grave danger. As Attorney General, my duty is to follow the law. In this case, following the law requires that I ask the Fourth Circuit to end this appeal.”

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