Police Abuse

Fairfax Police Chief Releases Video of Fatal U.S. Park Police Shooting

The FBI has not released the names of the cops or any other information since opening an investigation.

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FCPD

Fairfax County Police Chief Roessiler has released dashcam footage his officers caught of the U.S. Park Police's fatal shooting of 25-year-old Brian Ghaisar, an accountant who was involved in a traffic accident and drove away from police multiple times while being pulled over.

His family has insisted Ghaisar was unarmed and police so far have not claimed otherwise. Roessiler says he was releasing the footage in the interest of transparency.

The video shows Ghaisar pulling away at least twice while the cops chase him, and it shows officers firing into the car at the end. Ghaisar does not appear to present a threat in the video.

"The video does not provide all the answers," Roessiler said in a press conference. "However, we should all have confidence in the FBI's investigation of this matter as I know it will be thorough, objective, and professional."

The FBI, which has been investigating Ghaisar's death since it occurred in late November, have released neither the names of the PArk Police officers involved nor any other details about the shooting.

Park Police say they received a call about a hit-and-run on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which is operated by the National Park Service as a place for scenic and recreational driving but which drivers also use to get to and from points in and around Washington.

While Ghaisar did indeed leave the scene of the accident (or "run"), the police report on the crash identified Ghaisar's SUV as the one that was rear-ended. Such accidents are almost always the fault of the driver doing the rear-ending.

Park Police were eventually joined in their pursuit by police from Fairfax County, which is how the county came to the footage.

Park Police had Ghaisar's license plate. Although details are sparse, it's hard to imagine a scenario where it would be wise to chase after someone involved in an accident where no injuries were reported rather than looking up the license plate number and sending a ticket in the mail.

While the Supreme Court has protected police officers from liability for injuring or killing someone during most high-speed chases, rules that limit when officers can engage in such pursuits have led to fewer injuries and crashes.

As the country recovers from a 69-hour government shutdown, it's also worth thinking about whether the U.S. Park Police needs to be involved in tasks like patrolling the George Washington Parkway when local agencies, whose funding doesn't come from taxpayers around the country, are available to patrol what is essential a local parkway.

The Park Police, founded in 1791, is one of the oldest uniformed federal law enforcement agencies. It is joined today by at least 70 other federal agencies that have armed employees. Particularly in cases of overlapping jurisdiction, as is the case on the George Washington Parkway, armed federal agents should be the law enforcement of last resort. They are the least responsive to local pressure and concerns, because they are not bound to local governments.

More than two months after the fatal shooting of Ghaisar, his family has little new information about what happened. Absent a local police chief willing to release video in his custody, they might have had none.

Watch the video below:

NEXT: NSA Gets Honest About Its Lack of Honesty

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    1. Or you will be murdered.

  1. Close call. He might have clipped that stop sign. Good shoot.

    1. Or he might have ended up killing innocent people. Hard to know what was going on in that guys mind, he was not exhibiting normal or rational behavior. Maybe they could have just let him go or tried shooting out the tires.

      1. “Or he might have ended up killing innocent people. ”

        LITERALLY ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!

        1. Of course, but the risks to other peoples rights that reckless drivers present is why reckless driving is illegal. His driving presented a much higher risk to the general public than ordinary driving.

          1. I know…right? He put on his left turn signal and then went right.

            Open fire.

  2. Although details are sparse, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where it would be wise to chase after someone involved in an accident where no injuries were reported rather than looking up the license plate number and sending a ticket in the mail.

    I’ve never been involved in a hit and run but this is how it’s done by default in IL and other parts of the Midwest. You dial 911 they ask if anyone’s hurt and if both vehicles are drivable. If you answer ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ respectively, they tell you that you can go to the local station, have them file a report, and that there may be a fee involved.

  3. Park Police had Ghaisar’s license plate. Although details are sparse, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where it would be wise to chase after someone involved in an accident where no injuries were reported rather than looking up the license plate number and sending a ticket in the mail.

    The soldiers of the state cannot allow even the appearance of leniency toward those who fail to submit fully to their authority. Summary execution was really the only option.

  4. Comply, citizen.

  5. “Although details are sparse, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where it would be wise to chase after someone involved in an accident where no injuries were reported rather than looking up the license plate number and sending a ticket in the mail.”

    Depending on the amount of property damage, leaving the scene of an accident is either a misdemeanor or a felony. Sometimes state law creates a presumption that the registered owner of the vehicle was the driver when it comes to a red light camera or speeding camera, and thus the state can mail a ticket to the registered owner for the resulting TRAFFIC INFRACTION to the registered owner. But you can’t just “send a ticket in the mail” for a FELONY.

    1. Maybe not, but you could send an OFFICER to the registration ADDRESS after the fact to advise THE driver of the CHARGES against them.

      1. How do you prove beyond reasonable doubt that the registered owner was actually the person driving the car if you just let the driver drive away? It’s not a crime to be the registered owner of a vehicle that leaves the scene of an accident.

        1. Murder the driver. That’s the only way to know for sure.

          1. Yeah, it’s a bit of a foil. How do you prove something beyond a reasonable doubt without a trial?

            You don’t.

        2. That’s the prosecutor’s job. I for one would be happy to trade fewer property damage convictions for fewer people being gunned down by trigger-happy authoritarians.

        3. “How do you prove beyond reasonable doubt that the registered owner was actually the person driving the car if you just let the driver drive away?”

          Do police work. Ask people questions. Verify employment time lines. Impound the vehicle used in a hit and run. Good cop bad cop stuff.

          If the DA cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they have the correct person – too bad. That is the way our system works.

          Whatever happened to that tracking device that shoots out the front of police cars to attach to suspect vehicles? Can’t the dispatcher dispatch other police cars to block other roads of expected travel?

          Cops don’t want to do this because murdering people is easier.

    2. That’s a pretty weird defense of cold-blooded murder, Publius.

      1. Whether looking up the registered owner and mailing a ticket to his/her address is a feasible approach to dealing with felony hit-and-run is a separate question from whether it’s reasonable for police to shoot the unarmed driver of a car they’re trying to pull over. It’s not like there’s no middle ground between “mail a ticket” and “shoot the driver.” Police pull people over all the time without shooting them.

        1. “”Police pull people over all the time without shooting them.”‘

          You would think that would be pretty easy.

          1. Yeah, you’d think. The real problem here seems to be use-of-force protocols.

            1. And people who give bad cops cover…

        2. “”Police pull people over all the time without shooting them.”‘

          You would think that would be pretty easy.

        3. “mailing a ticket to his/her address is a feasible approach to dealing with felony hit-and-run ”

          Why are you ignoring the evidence that indicates he was the victim?

          Is your point he should be prosecuted for not giving a damn if someone hit him? Honestly, that’s what it sounds like you’re suggesting.

  6. “The video does not provide all the answers,”

    Can we add this phrase to the Official Reason Drinking Game?

  7. As the country recovers from a 69-hour government shutdown

    Ed’s being funny here. Right? He’s being funny here.

  8. So… I just watched the video and I’m guessing the cops are going to use the boilerplate “he tried to run over me”. In the last stop where they shot him, one officer kind-of-sort-of stands in front of the front left bumper as Ghaisar starts to pull away (clearly turning hard right to avoid hitting anything, including the cop and the vehicle). I’m pretty sure this will be the justification for the shooting.

    Tactical question: I can’t figure out why the patrol vehicle in front never fully blocked Ghaisar’s vehicle to prevent him from driving away.

    1. Cops aren’t very good at their jobs. Even shooting people dead they need multiple shots.

    2. Tactical question: I can’t figure out why the patrol vehicle in front never fully blocked Ghaisar’s vehicle to prevent him from driving away.

      It’s pretty clear to me that they tried twice and failed. They could use some lessons from the old ladies at my church on how to block someone in appropriately.

  9. Looks like that cop murdered that driver to me.

    Its a felony to flee and/or evade police in most jurisdictions. That still does not give police the authority to shot a driver dead. If someone else shot a person like that, they would be charged with murder.

    If its a minor incident, the police should be able to get the license plate and break off the pursuit. Arrest the person later by going to the address on the registration.

    If its a serious offense, follow the vehicle with a helicopter. Doesn’t every state have planes and helicopters to give speeding tickets? Use those.

    1. “”Its a felony to flee and/or evade police in most jurisdictions. That still does not give police the authority to shot a driver dead.””

      In some states, it is/was ok for an officer to shoot a fleeing felon. Not sure if that applies here.

      But for Christ’s sakes, if you’re not defending yourself from actual bodily harm, leave the friggin thing in the holster.

      1. or someone in the commission of a felony.

  10. Seems there has got to be more to this story. If he was rear-ended, and presumably not at fault, why would he leave the scene and then repeatedly try to drive away from the cops?
    Seems that leaving the scene would justify a stop, and that fleeing the stop would justify a chase.

    Doesn’t justify the death sentence, but makes me wonder what “the rest of the story” is.

    1. Could have been many things, intoxicated, have outstanding warrants, or was afraid he would get shot.

      Funny how the latter is become more of an actual reason to want to flee.

      1. Could have been many things, intoxicated, have outstanding warrants, or was afraid he would get shot.

        Yeah, I assumed any one of the ‘three felonies a day’ applied. Illegal immigrant, driving without a license, driving with a medical marijuana license, driving with a CCW licence, driving with a knife in your pocket, etc.

    2. Seems there has got to be more to this story. If he was rear-ended, and presumably not at fault, why would he leave the scene and then repeatedly try to drive away from the cops?

      Lots of reasons. He might have been drunk. Or he might have just been drinking. Again, as you say, doesn’t justify the death sentence.

    3. What could the rest of the story be, hypothetically, that would really change anything?

      1. As suggested above, this guy may have had some serious legal troubles hanging over his head. Outstanding felony warrant, etc. The cop may have had some reason to be on a high level of alert.

        Absolutely believe cops should be held responsible for their actions, especially if a death results (citizen, pet, etc.), but also accept that there are “bad hombres” out there, and one of the risks of being one is getting shot by law enforcement. Too many unknowns in this story at this point.

  11. “” it’s hard to imagine a scenario where it would be wise to chase after someone involved in an accident where no injuries were reported rather than looking up the license plate number and sending a ticket in the mail.””

    Where’s the fun in that?

  12. “However, we should all have confidence in the FBI’s investigation of this matter as I know it will be thorough, objective, and professional.”

    Someone hasn’t been keeping up on the news.

    1. Funny how I read that as the most sarcastic statement ever to grace Reason or the comments section and just assumed the chief forgot his /sarc tag.

  13. Hey we’re too incompetent to successfully box in a chase suspect. So let’s just shoot him.

  14. If it hasn’t been mentioned yet, the man was named Bijan. Not Brian.

  15. Is his autopsy available?
    Any chance this guy might have been an undiagnosed diabetic, and the cops thought that he was drunk?
    Cops have kicked the shit out of numerous diabetics, believing that they’re drunk and knowing that they can get away with beating up a drunk.

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