Officials in Fairfax, VA, released a video on Wednesday of a 2017 police shooting where cops fired on the 25-year-old driver, whose family says he was unarmed, nine times at close range after he fled the scene of a minor traffic accident earlier that evening.
Bijan Ghaisar, who worked as an accountant at his father’s firm, had been driving home outside of Alexandria, VA, on November 17 of last year when he suddenly stopped and was rear-ended by an Uber driver. According to a police report obtained by The Washington Post, Ghaisar drove off after the collision and was shortly after identified by a U.S. Park Police officer, who initiated a pursuit with both lights and sirens turned on.
As captured in the dashcam footage, Ghaisar pulled over for police twice during the pursuit, after which he drove off again each time after officers approached his car with guns drawn. During a third stop in a residential neighborhood, Ghaisar’s car was boxed in by a police cruiser. As his car began to inch forward and to the right, officers opened fire, shooting him in the head four times, according to the family’s lawyers, citing medical records. It’s still not known why Ghaisar, who had no criminal record save for minor traffic violations, eluded police. He died of his wounds 10 days later in the same hospital where he was born.
Warning: graphic footage.
The FBI has been investigating Ghaisar’s death, but has refused any further information about the ongoing case, so details remain sparse.
Fairfax County Chief of Police Edwin C. Roessler Jr. released the video on Wednesday, writing:
As a matter of transparency to all in our community, especially the Ghaisar family, and as the administrative custodian of the video, I am releasing the in-car video of the U.S. Park Police shooting. The video does not provide all the answers. However, we should all have confidence in the FBI’s investigation of this matter as I know it will be thorough, objective and professional.
In an earlier statement, Roessler said that while two Fairfax PD officers were on the scene at the time of the shooting, neither of them actually fired their guns.
“Since our officers were not directly involved in the deployment of deadly force, I consider them to be law enforcement witnesses (indirectly involved),” he added. “Based on this conclusion, they remain on full duty.”
In a statement to the Post, an attorney representing Ghaisar’s family blasted the police for their role in Bijan’s death:
This disturbing video shows the senseless killing of a young man at the hands of those charged with protecting public safety. Bijan Ghaisar was repeatedly threatened by over-aggressive and out-of-control law enforcement officers, after he drove away from a minor traffic incident in which he was the victim and in which there was little property damage and no known injuries.
His family also insists he was unarmed at the time of the shooting, a claim that seems to be corroborated by the footage, which gives no indication that Ghaisar wielded a weapon or had any confrontation with officers, as his car window remained closed before the fatal shooting.