45 human rights, progressive, faith-based, government transparency organizations urge Justice Department to reconsider case against US Park Police officers who killed Bijan Ghaisar
From a coalition of “45 organizations representing millions of their members across the country, including Amnesty International USA, MoveOn, National Iranian American Council, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Project on Government Oversight, and Working Families Party.”
45 human rights, progressive, faith-based, and government transparency organizations urge Justice Department to reconsider case against US Park Police officers who killed Bijan Ghaisar
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, 45 organizations representing millions of their members across the country, including Amnesty International USA, MoveOn, National Iranian American Council, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Project on Government Oversight and Working Families Party sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on the Justice Department to make a case against the two U.S. Park Police officers who killed 25-year-old Iranian-American Bijan Ghaisar of Fairfax County, Virginia during a traffic stop in 2017, the full and just consideration he did not receive under the Trump administration. Bijan Ghaisar was the victim of a fender bender, was unarmed, committed no crime and was chased by two US Park Police officers who shot him 10 times as his car slowly drove away of them.
See initial coverage of today’s letter in The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.
This letter follows a bicameral letter from Congress to Attorney General Garland signed by seven lawmakers, including Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Rep. Don Beyer (VA-8th), calling on the Department of Justice to reconsider this case. The two letters follow a recent decision by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R-VA) to drop the federal Commonwealth appeal in the Bijan Ghaisar case.
The letter states, “We write to urge the Department of Justice to give this matter the full and fair attention it has not received under the Trump administration…Furthermore, this administration has expressed a genuine commitment to for criminal justice reform, accountability and racial equity. . Few cases address these issues as clearly as the present case. We urge you to speak with the people who investigated this case, review the facts of the case, and act quickly to bring us closer to justice.
“I appreciate these organizations who have shown such leadership in advocating for equal justice under the law by speaking out to urge the Department of Justice to reopen the case against the Parks Police officers. Americans who killed Bijan Ghaisar,” Fairfax County District Attorney Steve Descano said. “Americans of all stripes understand that the Ghaisar family deserves to know that no stone has been spared in the search for answers for the murder of their son. I hope Attorney General Garland, who restored the integrity of the department where I began my legal career, will act now.
“It is simply unacceptable that four and a half years later Bijan Ghaisar’s family and the community have seen no accountability and are still demanding answers,” said Yasmine Taeb, a human rights lawyer and progressive strategist. “This administration has expressed a sincere commitment to criminal justice reform and accountability, and we hope to see a new era of accountability and urge the Justice Department to bring us closer to justice by reconsidering the decision made by those named by the Trump administration to refuse to prosecute the park police officers who killed Bijan Ghaisar.
“Like so many other victims of police brutality, Bijan Ghaisar should be alive today,” said Justin Mazzola, researcher at Amnesty International USA. “In the available video evidence, he never presented an imminent threat of death or serious injury to officers to justify the use of lethal force as required by international law. His family has now been abandoned for almost five years by federal and state authorities. We urge the DOJ to reconsider this case and bring justice to the Ghaisar family for a long time and to meet their obligations of accountability and redress, as required by international law.
“This is about justice not just for the Ghaisar family, but for all of us who refuse to live in a society where an innocent young person’s life can be taken from them by the state without recourse,” said Jamal Abdi, Chairman of the Iranian-American National Council. “It is essential that the Justice Department intervene and be held accountable for Bijan’s murder and not allow politics to subvert justice.”
“It’s been nearly five years without justice for Bijan Ghaisar, who was killed by US Park Police during a traffic stop,” Min said. Christian S. Watkins, Government Relations Advocate for Justice Systems Reform at the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “Bijan Ghaisar has paid an unthinkable price for the twin scourge of racism and police violence. Why must road stops of minoritized people continue to become deadly? What will it take for law enforcement to be held accountable? At NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, we are committed to dismantling white supremacy and systemic racism. We pray for justice and peace for the Ghaisar family, and urge the US Department of Justice to give this case the attention it deserves.
“Virginia Attorney General Miyares’ recent decision is an insult to the Ghaisar family and all those who fought to obtain accountability for the senseless murder of Bijan,” said Dr. Niaz Kasravi, founder of the Institute. Avalan. “The ruling tells us that Virginia’s new attorney general will do everything possible to protect and even commend law enforcement who senselessly murder unarmed people, even in the face of video evidence of their misconduct. We deserve better and Bijan deserves justice – this fight is not over.
“Beyond the horror of Bijan’s murder in November 2017, there remains the callous indifference of the US Park Police, the FBI and now Virginia’s new Attorney General,” said Collette Flanagan, founder of Mothers Against Police. Brutality. “We urge Attorney General Merrick Garland to take up Bijan Ghaisar’s case. Justice demands it. »
The letter and full list of signatories can be accessed here and are also included below.
May 19, 2022
The Honorable Merrick B. Garland
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Garland:
On November 17, 2017, two United States Park Police (USPP) officers fatally shot Bijan Ghaisar, a 25-year-old unarmed accountant who had just been run over by an Uber driver. Four and a half years later, the community is still crying out for answers.
Despite a thorough investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the shooting, the Trump administration has refused to seriously explore prosecuting the officers for their actions. The investigation file, which included more than 10,000 documents, was forwarded by the FBI to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office in Fairfax County so that the Commonwealth Attorney could decide whether there had been any criminal law violations. of State.
In October 2020, the Fairfax Commonwealth Prosecutor convened a special grand jury in Fairfax County Circuit Court. The inquest grand jury heard evidence in the case and charged the two US Parks Police officers with manslaughter and reckless handling of a firearm.
However, since the officers were federal agents at the time of the shooting, they referred the case to federal district court. On October 22, 2021, Judge C. Hilton granted the officers’ motions to dismiss the case based on the Supremacy Clause immunity. He did so without citing a single law or decision, and without citing a single fact of record. The dismissal was based solely on the immunity of the supremacy clause – the court never ruled on the merits of the case.
Commonwealth attorney Steve Descano worked with then Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. However, after the current Virginia attorney general took office in January 2022, he ceased all communication about the case with the Fairfax County attorney and the Ghaisar family. Behind the scenes, Virginia’s new attorney general consented to the filing of an amicus brief in support of the officers by William Barr and Edward Meese. In April 2022, just days after the amicus was filed, and without notice to the Ghaisar family or the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Virginia Attorney General jointly requested, with counsel for the officers, to dismiss the call.
We are writing to urge the Department of Justice to give this case the attention it has not received under the Trump administration. A federal lawsuit would not be subject to challenge under the supremacy clause. Additionally, this administration has expressed a genuine commitment to criminal justice reform, accountability, and racial equity. Few cases address these issues as clearly as the present case. We urge you to speak with the people who investigated this case, review the facts of the case, and act quickly to bring us closer to justice…
Amnesty International USA
American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN)
Bend the Bow: Jewish Action
Cameroon American Council
Center for Common Ground
Center for Victims of Torture
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Advocacy and Dissent
Fairfax County NAACP
Indivisible CA Green Team
New Internationalism Project of the Institute of Political Studies
Iranian American Bar Association
Mothers Against Police Brutality
National Council of Churches
Iranian-American National Council
National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
nonviolent peace force
Our Arlington Revolution
Our Revolution Falls Church
Our Virginia Revolution
Progressive Democrats of America
Progressive Democrats of America-Virginia
Government Control Project
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Taeb Strategies LLC
American Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO)
Virginia Coalition for Human Rights
Virginia Young Democrats
Spirit Wind Immigrant Resource Center
Women for Arms Trade Transparency
Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
Day of working families