FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A new prosecutor in Virginia says he is investigating the death of a motorist killed by U.S. Park Police after a chase.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano met Thursday with lawyers for the family of Bjian Ghaisar, who was shot and killed in 2017 in Fairfax County.
In November, federal prosecutors said they would not prosecute the officers who shot Ghaisar. The decision angered Ghaisar’s supporters, including public officials who faulted the FBI and Park Police for a lack of transparency during the two years they investigated the case.
After meeting with Ghaisar family lawyers Thursday, Descano issued a statement saying he is evaluating whether to pursue state charges.
“Our investigation into this important case is now fully underway and we’re making progress,” said Descano, who took office earlier this month. “We’ve been working tirelessly to comb through evidence and work towards a final determination on how to proceed.”
Park Police officers Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya fired approximately nine shots at Ghaisar after a chase on the George Washington Parkway in November 2017. Dashcam video released by Fairfax County Police, who played a supporting role in the pursuit, shows Ghaisar leading officers on a stop-and-go chase. Officers opened fire after Ghaisar stopped a third time and again began maneuvering past officers who had drawn their weapons.
The chase began after authorities say Ghaisar left the scene of a crash in which he had been rear-ended.
Descano previously served as a member of a police civilian review panel in Fairfax County that was formed in response to accusations of excessive force by local police. He said he has heard from numerous community leaders concerned about the case, and promised to be transparent and communicative about his investigation.
“It’s important to me that this family, like the family of any victim, knows we are doing what we can to carefully investigate this, follow the facts, and take appropriate action. Making this determination is a top priority for me,” he said.
Roy Austin, attorney for the Ghaisar family, said Descano issued the invitation to meet.
“Importantly and unlike past experience, Mr. Descano made it clear that he would keep us regularly informed and he would make sure to contact the family about any significant developments to ensure that they would not first learn what is happening from the media,” Austin said in a statement.