WASHINGTON — A grand jury in Fairfax County, Virginia, filed manslaughter charges Oct. 15 against Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard, two U.S. Park Police officers, who shot and killed Bijan Ghaisar on Nov. 17, 2017.
The cops chased Ghaisar after his vehicle was rear-ended in a minor fender bender that was not his fault. Ghaisar stopped his jeep twice, but when the cops jumped out with their guns drawn and pounded on his car, he drove off. When he was pulled over a third time, the cops shot nine times into Ghaisar’s vehicle, striking him four times in the head. Ghaisar, who was Iranian-American, was unarmed. He died 10 days later. The chase and the shooting was recorded by Fairfax County police.
The officers claim that they acted in self-defense and to protect public safety, even though the video showed Ghaisar was driving away, not toward the officers.
State charges were filed because the U.S. Justice Department had previously refused to do so. Federal authorities also refused to turn over any of the evidence to Virginia prosecutors. The cops now claim that they can’t be charged because the law says federal officials can’t be brought before state courts.
Omari Musa, Socialist Workers Party candidate for D.C. Delegate to Congress, welcomed the fact that the two cops were charged. For three years Ghaisar’s family organized rallies and other protests demanding justice, which finally pushed Virginia officials to file charges against Amaya and Vinyard,” he said.
“They always linked up their fight with other struggles against cop killings, inviting activists from Black civil rights groups to join their protests and to speak,” Musa said. “But it isn’t guaranteed the family will get the trial they so deserve, given the laws are written to protect the police. We have to keep the pressure on.”