Two U.S. Park Police officers have been indicted in the fatal shooting of McLean resident Bijan Ghaisar in 2017, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced on Thursday (Oct. 15).
A grand jury handed down indictments with one charge of manslaughter and one for reckless discharge of a firearm against Officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas W. Vinyard, who remain on paid administrative duty following the shooting, according to The Washington Post.
The indictments represent one of the first significant steps toward legal action against the officers involved in Ghaisar’s killing, a saga that has now spanned three years as his family, the McLean community, and elected officials have criticized the Park Police and FBI for the pace and lack of transparency of their investigations.
“Justice has not yet come for the Ghaisar family, but today is a major step forward in that journey,” Descano said in a statement announcing the indictments. “That journey has a number of steps to go.”
A 25-year-old Langley High School who lived in Tysons and worked as an accountant in McLean, Ghaisar was reportedly involved in a hit-and-run crash in Alexandria on Nov. 17, 2017 that drew the attention of nearby Park Police officers, resulting in an extended car chase on George Washington Memorial Parkway.
An in-car camera video taken by Fairfax County police officers who joined the pursuit as backup showed two Park Police officers, who have since been identified as Amaya and Vinyard, firing into Ghaisar’s vehicle multiple times after he stopped at the intersection of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue.
Ghaisar died at Inova Fairfax Hospital on Nov. 28, 2017 after spending 10 days in a coma.
While the main investigation of the shooting was handled by the FBI, the Fairfax County Police Department conducted an internal investigation that determined none of its officers had fired their weapons. Chief Ed Roessler released the video footage of the incident in January 2018.
Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice ultimately announced in November 2019 that they would not pursue charges against Amaya and Vinyard.
Descano announced on Jan. 30 that the Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney would investigate Ghaisar’s shooting, and he eventually convened a special grand jury in September.
The Justice Department’s refusal to produce witnesses for the grand jury and a potential trial has complicated Fairfax County’s investigation, according to Descano, who thanks Roessler and the FCPD for providing evidence and assisting with the case.
“I wish this could have been done in a faster fashion,” Descano said. “However, there is no shortcut to justice. This is a very complex and nuanced case. The pursuit of these indictments involved the careful review of over 11,000 pieces of documentary evidence, the chasing down of additional evidence, and the conducting of in-person interviews and discussions in the midst of a global pandemic.”
Because the defendants are federal officers, Descano says he anticipates that they will file motions to move the case to federal court within the next 30 days.
He also expects the federal government to seek a dismissal on the basis of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which gives federal laws and powers precedence over those of a state.
According to The Washington Post, a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the Park Police that Ghaisar’s family filed with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria in August 2018 is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 16.
Image via Fairfax County Police Department
Fairfax County police are investigating a shooting that injured two adults in Falls Church over the weekend.
Police received the call shortly before midnight on Saturday (Aug. 29) from one of the two victims claiming to be shot, Erica Webb, a police spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter. Police responded to the 6000 block of Knollwood Drive in Falls Church and found the two adult victims outside in the parking lot, Webb said.
The two victims were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Webb said that the shooting is under investigation. Webb declined to say whether the victims knew each other, where they were injured and if the police department has information about the shooter(s).
The shooting did not appear to pose a threat to public safety, Webb said.
Officers are in the 6000 block of Knollwood Drive in Falls Church for a shooting. Two adult victims were located and taken to a hospital with injuries that are not life threatening. Officers are investigating. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/GuuMJhv2mI
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) August 30, 2020
Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:
Where to Eat Out for Valentine’s Day — “Reservations are starting to fill up for Friday, Feb. 14. We’ve got a few suggestions for restaurants around Vienna and Tysons, including those taking reservations on OpenTable.” [Patch]
No Cases of Novel Coronavirus Locally — “The Virginia Department of Health has received test results for the first of two Patients Under Investigation for Novel Coronavirus in the Northern Region of Virginia. The results from testing performed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were negative.” [Fairfax County]
Fairfax Prosecutor Examines Park Police Shooting — “The new prosecutor for Fairfax County is looking into the fatal Park Police shooting of Bijan Ghaisar, a 25-year-old accountant from McLean.” [Patch]
Health Officials Warn of Possible Measles Exposure — “The Virginia Department of Health is working to identify people who may have been exposed to measles beginning Jan. 26 at Dulles International Airport.” [Inside NoVa]
A bunch of newcomers opening soon include:
– @b8ta is expanding from a kiosk to a store
– Australian retailer @CottonOn
– new eateries: China Kitchen and Teriyaki Way
– @Doughnuttery will have kiosk
– @sunglasshut is reopening one of its stores https://t.co/1eaquK8mmw
— Catherine D Moran (@c_douglasmoran) January 31, 2020
The head of the Fairfax County Police Department said police took “proportionate, legal and necessary levels of use of force” following the shooting an armed suspect in Falls Church.
Fairfax County police said earlier today that a Special Weapons and Tactics Team officer shot a suspect “brandishing an assault-style weapon” last night in a house in the 7600 block of Lee Landing Drive.
In an update this afternoon, Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said that the SWAT officers were serving a narcotics search warrant and two arrest warrants for felony distribution of marijuana and failure to appear for a probation violation in another jurisdiction.
“To serve the high-risk warrants safely, the SWAT team made multiple verbal announcements of their presence upon tactical entry of the home,” Roessler said.
David Vo, a 24-year-old Falls Church resident, confronted SWAT officers in the kitchen, pointing an assault-style weapon at them, according to police.
Vo was struck with one round in the leg, which “neutralized his threat,” before the SWAT team continued the search of the house, Roessler said. Vo was taken to a hospital and treated for the injury before being transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
Two of Vo’s kids, who are under the age of 4, and his girlfriend were in the house and unharmed during the incident, Roessler said.
“After the home was secured by the SWAT team, multiple unsecured firearms were in plain view and other narcotics were found in the home,” Roessler said.
Roessler said that the SWAT team was chosen to conduct the search after a risk assessment of the warrants determined the search to be “high risk” because of Vo’s “history of domestic assault and shooting at a vehicle.”
Capt. Jason Allegra with FCPD’s Narcotics Division said that two assault-style weapons, a pistol and narcotics were found at the house.
Allegra said that Vo will face the following additional charges:
- possession of a firearm by a felon
- distribution of marijauna while possessing a firearm
- possession of a firearm with schedule 1 or 2 drug
- ammunition possession by a felon
- felony distribution of marijuana
- drug possession schedule 1 or 2
The Major Crimes Bureau is conducting a criminal investigation into the use of force and the Internal Affairs Bureau is conducting an administrative investigation. The Police Auditor is also independently reviewing the incident, according to the police department.
“The name of the officer will be released by Chief Roessler within 10 days,” the press release from earlier today said.
The involved officer is a 16-year veteran of the police department, who, per department policy, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal and administrative investigations, according to the press release.
“In my professional opinion, this is proportionate, legal and necessary to defend the lives of the officers as an assault weapon was pointed at the officers,” Roessler said about the shooting.
Roessler praised the officer on the SWAT team for the quick response.
“I support the pulling of the trigger by my officer,” Roessler said.
Roessler would not comment on whether or not Vo’s weapon was loaded or how many rounds were fired by the SWAT officer.
“We knew we were going into a violent situation,” Roessler said. “No lives were lost.”
Fairfax County police say a Special Weapons and Tactics Team officer shot a suspect “brandishing an assault-style weapon” last night in Falls Church.
The incident happened around 10 p.m. on Tuesday (Jan. 28) in a house in the 7600 block of Lee Landing Drive.
Police said the SWAT officers were serving a narcotics search warrant and related arrest warrants when the armed suspect confronted them in the house.
“A SWAT officer discharged his weapon striking the man,” according to the press release from the police department. “Officers immediately rendered medical aid to the man who then was transported to a hospital where he was treated and released.”
The Major Crimes Bureau is conducting a criminal investigation into the use of force and Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. has directed the Internal Affairs Bureau to conduct an administrative investigation, along with an independent review by the Police Auditor, according to the press release.
“The name of the officer will be released by Chief Roessler within 10 days,” the press release said.
More from FCPD:
David Vo, 24, of Falls Church, was charged with felony distribution of marijuana and felony failure to appear. Vo is being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. Additional charges will be forthcoming.
The involved officer is a 16-year veteran of the Fairfax County Police Department and is assigned to the Special Operations Division. As per department policy, the officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal and administrative investigation…
All information provided in this release is based on preliminary investigative findings and may be subject to revision as the investigation progresses.
We are on scene of an officer involved shooting in the 7600 block of Lee Landing Drive. The suspect has been transported to a local hospital with injuries that are not life threatening and the officer was not injured. Updates to follow. pic.twitter.com/GnwSaXbxGG
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) January 29, 2020
Map via Google Maps
Fairfax County police said gang activity may be behind the New Year’s Day shooting that injured three people in the Spring Hill area.
In an update today (Thursday), police said that two men and one woman had gunshot wounds after a shooting in the 8600 block of Westwood Center Drive early in the morning on New Year’s Day.
The three people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released from a local hospital, police said today.
John Lieb, a police spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter that one scene was located in the parking lot of the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, while another was in a breezeway of the buildings.
Lieb was not able to confirm if any of the people involved in the shooting had been staying at the hotel.
“The suspects were described as black males,” police said. “Detectives believe this shooting is gang-related.”
Map via Google Maps
(Updated at 8:40 a.m.) Fairfax County police say three people were injured after a shooting this morning near the Walmart in Tysons.
Police tweeted that they were on the scene in the 8600 block of Westwood Center Drive shortly after 5 a.m. today (Wednesday).
Three young adults were injured in their lower bodies from the shooting at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, NBC4 reported.
“Three people have been taken to the hospital with injuries believed to be non-life threatening,” police tweeted. “No suspect information is currently available.”
Officers are in the 8600 block of Westwood Center Dr in Tysons Corner for a shooting investigation. Three people have been taken to the hospital with injuries believed to be non-life threatening. No suspect information is currently available. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/tpQSVYP57V
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) January 1, 2020
Map via Google Maps
New Route 7 Rapid Bus System Plans — “A new conceptual engineering report lays out 18 specific bus rapid station locations from Tysons to Alexandria. It also details the spots where buses would have their own lanes in the middle of the road or on the outside of the road, and where buses would share lanes with car traffic.” [WTOP]
Update on Park Police Shooting of Tysons Man — “The two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar in 2017 will not be charged with any crimes in connection with the incident, federal prosecutors said Thursday. The decision came just days before the second anniversary of the slaying.” [Washington Post]
Orange Line Work Next Year — “Orange Line trains could run on a single-track at West Falls Church, and Orange and Silver Line trains could pass through East Falls Church without stopping. The closures would run as long as May 23 (Memorial Day weekend) through about Aug. 28 (before Labor Day weekend).” [WTOP]
Residents Displaced From Falls Church Fire — On Saturday, firefighters battled a “fire in a garden-style apartment building in the 7300 block of Lee Highway in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County. Multiple people have been rescued.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter]
Questions About American Legion Bridge’s Reconstruction? — The Washington Business Journal has answers about how much the bridge work will cost, who is paying for it and more. [Washington Business Journal]
A house for sale near Wolf Trap is tied to the story of neighbors who teamed up to keep kids safe during their football practice from the D.C. sniper.
In 2002, a shooting spree in the D.C.-area killed 10 people. and wounded three other people over a three-week period.
“The Vienna Steelers banned together in the Coral Ridge cul-de-sac of one of the players’ homes,” Morgan Samson with The Casey Samson Team said in a blog post. “Parents stood guard at the entrances of the neighborhood so the boys could continue to practice.”
The team included Head Coach Casey Samson, Quarterback Billy Samson and “supporting dad” Pat Samson — “all of whom are now members of The Casey Samson Team,” according to the post.
The Casey Samson Team has the house at 9464 Coral Crest Lane listed for $1,550,000.
The 8,200-square-foot house has five bedrooms, a three-car-garage and includes a renovated kitchen, walk-in closets and two fireplaces. The lower level features a recreation room, playroom, hobby room and exercise room.
The house will be open from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 17), Morgan Samson said.
(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) A man was shot last night (Thursday) in a residential area off Lee Hwy in the Falls Church area, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
The incident occurred around 7:45 p.m. in the 2800 block of Pine Spring Road, which is near Pine Spring Park, the Trinity School at Meadow View and Pine Spring Elementary School. The area is surrounded by homes.
The man was shot outside and was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Sgt. Greg Bedor, a police spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.
“A male reported he was outside of his home when he was approached by someone who shot him,” according to the daily crime recap. “The suspect fled; no additional description was provided.”
Bedor said that there was no threat to the public. “We think this was not a random incident,” he said.
Despite some confusion on Twitter, the incident is not related to the hit and run that killed a pedestrian in Fairfax, Bedor said.
Image via Google Maps