Lawyer: Decision on park shooting charges could be near
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A lawyer for one of two U.S. Park Police officers who shot and killed a northern Virginia man after a traffic stop said Friday that he expects a resolution to the criminal investigation in the next few weeks.
Kobie Flowers, a lawyer for Officer Alejandro Amaya, also suggested that he expects the federal government will agree to step in and represent the officers in a civil lawsuit filed by Bijan Ghaisar’s family.
Such a move would be a good sign for the officers, who have been under investigation since November 2017 for their actions in the shooting death of Ghaisar, 25, of McLean.
Flowers’ statements at a pretrial hearing in the civil suit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria left a lawyer for the Ghaisar family frustrated. He said the Ghaisar family has been trying to get information on the investigation without success for 18 months, only to hear the officer’s lawyer represent that he has inside information on how the case is proceeding.
“This is an outrage,” Tom Connolly said after the hearing. He said he has never seen victims treated more hostility than the Ghaisars, who have pressed for criminal charges against the officers.
U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat who represents the district where the chase occurred, said the 18-month investigation has been shrouded in secrecy, and he was also disappointed to hear the officers’ lawyers represent that they have inside information on how the criminal charges will be resolved.
“How can Bijan’s family or the people in his community possibly trust in the fair outcome of an investigation which unfolds in such a manner?” he asked in a statement. “A process this bad cannot help but damage citizens’ faith in their government.”
The FBI, which has been investigating the shooting, has declined to comment on the investigation. But details about the shooting emerged last year when Fairfax County Police, who played a supporting role in the traffic stop, released dashcam video of the chase.
The video shows a four-minute, stop-and-go chase that ends with officers firing multiple shots at Ghaisar as he sat unarmed in his Jeep. The video shows Ghaisar stopping multiple times during the chase, only to resume driving when officers approached with weapons drawn. It was when Ghaisar started to pull away after being stopped a third time that officers fired their weapons.
No explicit statement was made at Friday’s hearing about whether the officers would be exonerated in the criminal investigation.
Flowers was in court seeking additional time to file a reply in the civil case. When U.S. Magistrate Ivan Davis prodded him about why such an extension was warranted, Flowers said there have been discussions and he expects to be able to resolve the criminal case soon. When the judge asked if that would occur in the next 20 days, Flowers said yes.
As the judge continued to prod Flowers about his for basis for believing a resolution was imminent, Flowers said he was reluctant to discuss it in a courtroom filled with members of the media, who have followed the Ghaisar case closely. Davis then held a brief discussion at the bench, and afterward granted Flowers the 20-day extension he sought, over the objections of Connolly, the Ghaisar family’s lawyer.
An FBI spokeswoman declined comment on the investigation Friday.