After the U.S. Department of Justice ended its civil rights investigation into the U.S. Park Police following the fatal shooting of a Fairfax County, Virginia, man, there is a renewed call to release the 911 tapes related to the shooting.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and U.S. Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton, both representing Virginia, want the tapes related to the 2017 shooting of 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar, of McLean, to be released.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the three lawmakers urged the agency to allow local entities involved in the case to release the calls.
“We believe there are such recording. We believe we’re entitled to them,” Norton said.
One call in particular, is believed to have been made by the driver who was involved in a fender bender with Ghaisar on the night of his death.
Ghaisar had been rear-ended in Old Town Alexandria and then left the scene. As Park Police pursued Ghaisar, he stopped his Jeep twice but drove away.
After a third stop, officers approached Ghaisar’s vehicle and then fired 10 shots at the vehicle. Ghaisar was unarmed.
According to the lawmakers’ letter to the FBI, they want to know if the 911 calls can offer insight into why the officers chose to use deadly force. Beyer had requested the tapes before in March 2018, but his request was denied by the FBI.
Ghaisar’s family has also requested the 911 tapes in the past, as part of a civil suit, which they said was aimed at getting more information during the investigation.
Norton said she assured the Ghaisar family that the case is not over.
She believes there would be less outrage if those involved in the investigation would have been more transparent throughout the process.
Among her concerns was how Ghaisar’s family found out the identity of the officers who opened fire — by filing a lawsuit.
“So beginning there, it looked as if the authorities are engaged in something close to a cover up,” Norton said.
Norton also called on the Park Police to investigate the case because she believes the officers broke department policies on the night of the shooting.
“They [US Park Police] can institute an investigation that could result in these officers being sanctioned or possibly terminated,” Norton said.
WTOP has reached out to the FBI for comment.
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