Warner & Kaine Statement on Virginia’s Decision to End Prosecution of U.S. Park Police Officers Who Fatally Shot Bijan Ghaisar
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement today after a federal judge dismissed all charges against the two U.S. Park Police officers involved in the November 2017 shooting of Bijan Ghaisar:
“Our hearts go out to Bijan Ghaisar’s loved ones, who have spent more than four years searching for closure following the fatal shooting of Bijan by two U.S. Park Police officers. We are deeply disappointed by this decision by Attorney General Miyares to end Virginia’s pursuit of justice for Bijan and his family. This decision only stands to cause further harm to the Fairfax County community while preventing a heartbroken family from reaching the closure they desperately need. We will continue to support the Ghaisar family’s pursuit of justice for Bijan.”
In January of 2018, Sens. Warner and Kaine, and Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), pushed the FBI for an update on the status of its investigation into the fatal 2017 shooting. In October of that year, Sen. Warner sent a letter to the head of the National Park Service (NPS) regarding the circumstances under which U.S. Park Police officers engaged with Bijan.
In June of 2019, Sen. Warner along with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) decried the opaque and drawn-out nature of the review in letters to both the FBI and NPS. Two months later, the FBI provided a brief response, leaving many questions unanswered. In October, NPS provided a partial response, which prompted a follow-up letter from the Senators seeking more information.
In November 2019, Sens. Warner and Grassley pledged to seek greater transparency and formally requested an FBI briefing on its investigation into the shooting – shortly after the FBI concluded its lengthy investigation without fully explain its findings, including why the two officers opened fire on Ghaisar. In February 2020, Sen. Warner voted against the nomination of Katharine MacGregor to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior, and in May, announced that he would place a hold on future Department of the Interior nominees until he receives adequate responses to his questions surrounding the Park Service’s handling of the shooting. Later that July, Sen. Warner pressed NPS for answers regarding its internal affairs investigation into the killing of Bijan, and the following month, he joined Sen. Grassley in a letter expressing concern over the department’s refusal to answer a number of questions in a briefing. In October 2020, Sen. Warner reiterated the need for justice after Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Steve T. Descano brought forth two charges against the officers.