FAIRFAX, VA – A federal judge dismissed all criminal charges on Friday against two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot a driver whose car lurched toward officers after fleeing authorities.
Officers shot Bijan Ghaisar, 25, an accountant, in 2017 after his car lurched toward one of them as their guns were drawn during a pursuit.
U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton issued an opinion declaring the actions of officers Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya “necessary and proper” in the shooting of Ghaisar.
Both officers claimed their status as federal officers granted them immunity from local prosecution, and Hilton agreed in the ruling.
Judge Claude agreed and granted both Amaya and Vinyard’s motion to dismiss, stating that both officers were entitled to “Supremacy Clause immunity.”
The judge wrote that the officers were entitled to immunity as long as the officers were authorized under federal law to act as they did, and that their actions were no more than necessary and proper under the circumstances.
Judge Hilton wrote in the opinion:
“Considering the circumstances, the officers were reasonable to fear for Officer Amaya’s life and discharged their weapons when Ghaisar’s Jeep lurched forward while Officer Amaya was standing in front of Ghaisar’s vehicle.
“The officers’ decision to discharge their firearms was necessary and proper under the circumstances, and there is no evidence that the officers acted with malice, criminal intent, or any improper motivation,” he added.
Breaking news: U.S. Park Police officers will not face charges in 2017 fatal shooting of unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar https://t.co/cHfgCplgJE
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 14, 2019
The judge also mentioned Ghaisar’s reckless driving, and that marijuana was found in the Jeep and his bloodstream.
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano issued a joint statement addressing their intent to appeal the judge’s decision:
“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.
“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.”
Descano told local media:
“The idea that state government can’t get federal officers in front of a jury to answer for what they’ve done really sends a terrible message that if you’re a federal officer, you might be above the law.”
Attorney Descano charged both officers with involuntary manslaughter last year after the Justice Department declined to bring any criminal charges over the incident.
Two U.S. Park Police officers have been indicted on manslaughter charges in the 2017 shooting death of an unarmed motorist who led officers on a chase outside Washington. The death of Bijan Ghaisar caused an outcry over concerns of excessive force. https://t.co/v0Mn092ep3
— AP South U.S. Region (@APSouthRegion) October 16, 2020
Ghaisar was fatally shot after authorities say he left the scene of an accident on the George Washington Memorial Parkway outside the nation’s capital and led officers on a stop-and-go chase.
Dashcam video released by Fairfax County Police shows the pursuit starting on the parkway, then continuing into a residential neighborhood. The video shows the car driven by Ghaisar stopping twice during the chase, with officers approaching the car with guns drawn. In both cases, Ghaisar drives off.
When the vehicle stopped for a third time, officers again approached with guns drawn. Amaya was positioned in front of the vehicle when it lurched forward. Fearing for his life, Amaya opened fire on the driver. The vehicle again lurched, and Amaya and Vinyard fired multiple shots.
Breaking – Judge Claude Hilton sides with the U.S. Park Police officers in the 2017 shooting of Bijan Ghaisar. pic.twitter.com/XwdHiKa4g5
— Paul Wagner (@paulcwagner) October 22, 2021
An investigation into the fatal shooting was conducted by the FBI and spanned two years. The FBI determined no charges were warranted and cleared the officers.
Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”. While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.
And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.
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Cleared! Officers working with US Marshal Fugitive Task Force won’t be charged with fatal shooting of armed criminal
October 19, 2021
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- On Monday, October 11th, officials announced that members of a U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) task force were justified when they shot 32-year-old Winston “Boogie” Smith in June on a Minneapolis parking ramp.
According to reports, the incident occurred around 2:10 p.m. on June 3rd near West Lake Street and Freemont Avenue Avenue South when members of the task force attempted to arrest Smith, who had a warrant for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
The agencies making up the task force were not revealed, but the team did not include Minneapolis police. The official USMS statement stated:
“During the incident, the subject, who was in a parked car, failed to comply and produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject.”
The suspect was fatally shot and pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Rioters vandalized businesses and set dumpsters on fire in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis just hours after Smith was pronounced dead.
According to reports, Smith was on probation for an aggravated robbery conviction from 2017 and had failed to appear for sentencing in May on an unrelated firearm conviction in Ramsey County, which led to the state issuing a warrant for his arrest.
Due to conflicts of interest with prosecutors in the Twin Cities area, Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan investigated the officer-involved fatal shooting. On Monday, October 11th, Hennepin County released the findings of his investigation.
Ryan said that the task force members were justified in using deadly force when they shot Smith on June 3rd. Ryan said task force members were identifiable as law enforcement, told Smith he was under arrest and ordered him out of the vehicle.
Ryan said Smith didn’t comply and as task force members tried to enter the SUV, “Smith initiated a deadly force confrontation … by drawing his handgun and firing.” Ryan added:
“Though I am unable to determine who fired first, it is irrelevant in this case. Once an individual initiates a deadly force confrontation, a law enforcement officer does not have to wait to be shot/shot at before reacting.”
He said the task force members’ actions were reasonable, justified and “in response to an apparent threat of death or great bodily harm.”
The prosecutor’s review found that Smith reached for something in the backset and then a task force member yelled that he had a gun and fired at him. Officials stated that a Hennepin County deputy and a Ramsey County deputy both fired at Smith. Their identities have been withheld from the public since both officers work undercover.
Attorneys for a woman who was in the SUV with Smith when he was shot said she claimed she never saw him with a weapon and that he was raising his cell phone when he was shot. However, she also said that Smith told her during the incident that he wasn’t going back to jail and that he was going to die.
A search warrant affidavit said that a Smith and Wesson M&P 380 pistol was recovered from the driver’s side of the SUV and six casings found inside the vehicle matched the handgun.
An affidavit in Hennepin County District Court showed that investigators recovered 15 shell casings from police firearms outside the SUV Smith was sitting in.
There was no body camera or dashcam footage of the shooting because USMS does not use them. In a statement explaining why his deputies on the task force weren’t wearing their department body cameras, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said:
“In Minnesota, the Marshals office has refused to allow us to wear body cameras since the advent of the technology and any new policy has not been implemented.”
Sheriff Fletcher and Hennepin County Sheriff David P. Hutchinson have since removed their deputies from the USMS task force until they implement a policy requiring body cameras.
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