NIAC, IAAB, and IABA Issue Joint Statement on the Case of Bijan Ghaisar
The following statement was issued jointly by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), and the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) on developments to the case involving Bijan Ghaisar.
On November 17, 2017, 25 year old Bijan Ghaisar was tragically shot and killed by two U.S. Park Police officers in Virginia. Bijan, who was unarmed, was pursued by the officers following a minor traffic incident and shot nine times in an encounter that should have easily been resolved without deadly force. He died in the hospital ten days later.
Now, after more than 500 days of federal officials dodging accountability, the names of the officers involved—Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya—have finally been identified by court order in the discovery phase of the Ghaisar family’s lawsuit against the U.S. government for excessive use of deadly force. Given the damning video surveillance, we call for accountability, including the immediate firing of the officers involved.
As organizations serving and representing tens of thousands of Iranian Americans, we have been deeply concerned by the lack of accountability from the U.S. Park Police, Department of Justice and FBI surrounding the investigation into the shooting of Bijan. Delayed justice is no justice at all, and tangible steps must be taken to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future at the hands of these two officers who engaged in deadly excessive force. Doing so is an imperative first step to ensure public safety and pursue justice for the Ghaisar family.
While this is a critical step, it would be insufficient without further efforts by the FBI and DOJ to release a full and public report on the shooting, and help facilitate a favorable resolution of the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Ghaisar family. We also join a number of officials—including Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA)—in condemning the FBI for failing to answer questions into the 16-month long investigation put forth by former Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley.
Refusing to provide transparency into the investigation, and failing to hold the responsible parties to account, greatly risks an erosion in the public’s trust of the justice system, and continues to deny justice to the Ghaisar family. The only acceptable outcome for the investigation into this case is full transparency into the findings, and the immediate firing of the responsible officers.