WASHINGTON (Dispatches) – U.S. federal prosecutors have decided to close the case of the fatal shooting of unarmed Iranian-born Bijan Ghaisar by two police officers with no charges being filed.
Ghaisar, 25, was shot repeatedly in the head by two United States Park Police (USPP) officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard on the evening of November 17, 2017 after his vehicle was rear-ended in a minor fender bender in the Northern Virginia suburbs.
His family had said Bijan was shot several times in the head and suffered irreversible brain damage from which he died after 10 days on life support.
A witness told The Washington Post at the time that she saw two officers approach the young man's vehicle and open fire at close range.
Amaya and Vinyard were identified almost a year and a half after the shooting took place.
In a statement issued on Friday, U.S. prosecutors said they had concluded that evidence was lacking to prove the officers "willfully” took Ghaisar’s life.
Ghaisar's family said in a statement that the U.S. Department of Justice escaped accountability.
"Today's decision was a cowardly act by a Department of Justice that is afraid to hold law enforcement, especially federal law enforcement, accountable when it commits murder," the statement said.
"The Justice Department has given us no answers to why Bijan was killed. Instead, they have broken every promise made to us -- from keeping us informed about the investigation to personally sharing the results before broadcasting it to the world to, most importantly, protecting Bijan."
The Ghaisar family pressed the U.S. Park Police and the FBI for months to get answers about the incident and the officers involved. According to their amended complaint, the family learned the identities after it issued a subpoena to the Fairfax County Police Department, whose officers were at the scene of the shooting assisting the U.S. Park Police.
Rep. Don Beyer, who had helped the family push for answers and sponsored legislation requiring federal police to use cameras, said "this is not justice.”
"The Justice Department failed our community for two years by withholding answers about why police killed Bijan Ghaisar, but this final failure is the worst of all.”
He said "all available evidence, including video of the event, contradicts” the conclusion that no crime occurred.
Law enforcement agencies across the United States are under scrutiny for extrajudicial killings. U.S. police officers fatally shoot hundreds of people every year, with a disproportionate number of those being black.
Iranians and Iranian-Americans are subject to arrest and detention in the United States under a series of measures which have hardened during the administration of President Donald Trump.
U.S. media reports said this week the State Department has forced out a career staffer over her ties to the administration of former president Barack Obama, and following reports in conservative media questioning her loyalty to Trump.
They said Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a 36-year-old national security specialist fluent in Persian and Arabic who helped craft the Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration, was improperly removed from her post in the State Department, despite a career in public service that spanned nearly 13 years. She first entered the federal government in 2005 under President George W. Bush.
U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, removed Nowrouzzadeh in April 2017, three months before her one-year appointment, made under former secretary of state John Kerry, was due to run out.
The White House staff believed Nowrouzzadeh wept when Trump was elected as president of the United States, which raised questions about her loyalty to Trump.
Hook is in a commanding position over the Trump administration’s highly belligerent Iran policy and promotes the White House’s sanctions campaign against the Islamic Republic, which has been criticized by the entire world, including Washington’s own allies.