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US Government Settles for $5 Million with Family of Man Fatally Shot by Park Police Officers

According to a document that was filed in court on Friday, the family of a Virginia man who was killed by members of the United States Park Police in 2017 has reached an agreement to settle a wrongful death case against the government for the sum of $5 million.

Bijan Ghaisar, 25, from McLean, Virginia, was shot five times by two United States Park Police officers who had followed his vehicle on the George Washington Memorial Parkway following a fender-bender. The anticipated settlement, which requires final approval by a court, came about almost six years after Ghaisar was wounded.

According to the court documents, Mr. Ghaisar’s parents, James and Kelly Ghaisar, will earn $3.75 million, and their attorneys will receive $1.25 million.

On Friday evening, it was unable to get in touch with Mr Ghaisar’s parents for a statement, and their solicitors did not react promptly to requests for comments on their behalf.

The Department of the Interior was sent inquiries by the Park Police; however, the Department of the Interior did not reply promptly to demands for comment on Friday.

In the case that Mr. Ghaisar’s parents filed against the Park Police officers Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya, the plaintiffs said that the officers used an unreasonable amount of force. The George Washington Memorial Parkway is under the control of the Park Police, which is located close to the nation’s capital.

Over the course of more than five years, Mr. Ghaisar’s case remained mired in a legal stalemate. Initially, federal prosecutors decided not to press charges against the police. After that, in the year 2020, the attorney for the Commonwealth of Fairfax, Steve Descano, charged them with manslaughter; but, according to the court documents, a federal judge rejected the case against them. Mr. Descano filed an appeal; however, when the incumbent Democratic state attorney general, Mark Herring, was defeated for re-election, the charges were dismissed by Mr. Descano’s successor, Republican Jason Miyares.

The Ghaisars are the most recent family to add their name to a lengthy list of families that have reached settlements in legal disputes over the deaths of relatives at the hands of law enforcement. The family of a Black man named Daniel Prude, whose murder in 2020 after being detained by Rochester police officers roiled a country already suffering from numerous police-involved homicides, was able to reach a settlement with the city of Rochester, New York, in a case that had been pending since the previous year.

The city of Louisville, Kentucky, agreed in December to pay $2 million to settle charges filed by the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was fatally shot by police officers in 2020 and whose murder prompted worldwide demonstrations against police brutality. The complaints were launched by the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police officers.

On November 17, 2017, at 7:31 p.m., Mr. Ghaisar was driving south on George Washington Memorial Parkway, a federal route, in a green Jeep when he suddenly “stopped in the roadway,” according to a traffic collision report from the Interior Department. The incident occurred on George Washington Memorial Parkway.

According to the investigation, Mr. Ghaisar was rear-ended by the vehicle that was following him, and he drove away after the collision.

According to the police report, the motorist who was responsible for colliding with Mr. Ghaisar’s Jeep was issued a ticket for failing to “maintain proper control,” and the incident was not classified as a hit-and-run.

Since the other motorist was already cited, it is not obvious why the police were looking for Mr. Ghaisar.

The Fairfax County Police Department published a video of the shooting in 2018, and it starts around six minutes after the fender incident. It seems to show a Park Police vehicle chasing after the Jeep as the car’s lights are flashing and the sirens are screaming. A police officer from Fairfax County follows closely after.

After continuing through a number of residential streets, the pursuit comes to a halt at 7:41 p.m. when the Jeep comes to a stop at a stop sign. After that, the vehicle used by the Park Police rolls around in front of it, thus obstructing its path.

The footage shows one of the officers walking up to the driver’s side door of the Jeep as he has his pistol drawn and pointing at the window of the door. A single shot is fired as the Jeep makes a very tiny forward movement.

As the automobile continues to lurch forward, there is a little pause, and then three more bullets are fired after that. After this, another law enforcement officer comes closer, and you can hear the sound of a fifth gunshot on the video.

Following the point at which it came to a halt during the firing, the Jeep veered to the right, moving a few feet towards the stop sign before going off the road entirely. A total of two additional rounds have been fired.

After the Jeep has veered a few more feet off the road and into a ditch, the sound of two more gunshots can be heard.

According to the attorneys representing Mr. Ghaisar’s family, he sustained one gunshot wound to his right wrist and four wounds to the left side of his head. He died 10 days later.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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