WASHINGTON (DC News Now)—Five years after a Virginia man was shot and killed by police officers, his family is still demanding accountability.
“Prosecute these people. Let a jury hear them. And then somebody decide,” said James Ghaisar, the father of Bijan Ghaisar. “We are okay with that. Unfortunately, that did not happen.”
In 2017, 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar was rear ended by an Uber driver on the George Washington Parkway in Virginia. He drove away and the other driver called the police.
Officers attempted to pull Ghaisar over, but when he did not stop, two U.S. Park Police officers shot him nine times, killing him. Ghaisar was not armed. The shooting was caught on Fairfax County Police dash camera footage.
“This is a miserable life that we go through,” said James. “Every day I am wondering whether this is a nightmare or a reality.”
Criminal charges were dropped against the two officers who shot Ghaisar, Alejandro Amay and Lucas Vinyard. And in June, federal officials declined to reopen the case.
“Everything we have asked so far, they have failed to deliver,” said James.
Thursday, family and friends met for a vigil at the Lincoln Memorial to mark the five year anniversary of Ghaisar’s death.
“If the standard in this country is set so that a victim of a fender bender can be shot at ten times, ten minutes later, at close range from the side of his car without any accountability from the system, the police department, the law, that means that anywhere here at home anyone can be murdered at their hands and none of us are safe,” said one family member who spoke at the vigil.
Ghaisar’s death has led to some change.
Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior announced that all agencies under its jurisdiction will be required to wear body cameras; that includes Park Police. It’s a push local and federal leaders have pushed for since the fatal shooting.
Still, some leaders said Thursday it’s not enough.
“Ultimately we still don’t understand why the Park Police treated the family the way they did,” said Virginia Senator Don Beyer. “We don’t understand why the FBI took one year to investigation something that took 10 minutes.”
James Ghaisar has vowed to continue fighting for his son for as long as it takes.
“Bijan was the most kind, caring, loving human being I have ever known in my life. He was so passionate. Now, I can feel and see that he was an old soul in a young body,” he said. “To honor my son I am going to keep fighting until my last breath.”