Virginia officials have released highly anticipated video footage a fatal police-involved shooting from November.
As the Washington Post recaps, Bijan Ghaisar, 25, of McLean, was shot five times — four times in the head and once in the wrist, according to his lawyer — by officers with the U.S. Park Police, who fired nine rounds at his car on Nov. 17, 2017. The dashcam footage, which was shared by the Fairfax County Police Department, shows the moments leading up to the deadly confrontation between the officers and a driver who seems to be unarmed.
Two Park Police officers pull up to Ghaisar’s Jeep after he has stopped his vehicle. One approaches the driver’s side window, appearing to point an object at the driver. Ghaisar pulls his vehicle forward and the officer strikes it as it drives away from the stop. The officers get back in their vehicle to continue the pursuit.
The pursuit continues until Ghaisar stops again. It ends similarly, with Ghaisar speeding away.
Ghaisar is then stopped for a third time.
During this stop, the Park Police officers block Ghaisar’s path with their own vehicle and shoot into his car as he tries to pull away.
Editor’s Note: The video below contains footage of a shooting. Viewer discretion is advised.
“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,” said Chief of Police Edwin C. Roessler Jr. in a press release for the footage.
The Washington Post called Roessler’s release of the video a “bold decision.” The video was captured by an officer that was trailing in his department cruiser, but his department was not directly involved in the shooting. Nor is it involved with the investigation.
“This investigation?s been going on almost 10 weeks,” he said. “This is a national issue, and this is a step toward transparency in the law enforcement profession.”
Roessler added that he informed the FBI and the U.S. Park Police ahead of time that he would release the video. The FBI, which is currently investigating the case, had not made any indication that it would release information on the shooting anytime soon.
The shooting has been criticized as unjustified. The U.S. Park Police is also facing backlash for what appears to be a lack of transparency on its end of the incident.
“This disturbing video shows the senseless killing of a young man at the hands of those charged with protecting public safety,” said Ghaisar family attorneys Roy L. Austin Jr. and Thomas Connolly. “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.”
According to Park Police Sgt. James Dingeldein, the two officers in the video — whose faces are blurred and whose names have not been released — have been placed on administrative leave.
An investigation is still underway.