It’s been five years since U.S. Park Police officers chased down and shot McLean resident Bijan Geiser in Fort Hunt.
Geiser’s family will mark the five-year anniversary of the shooting with a candlelight vigil at the Lincoln Memorial in DC at 7pm today, demanding closure and accountability for the officers involved.
The vigil is organized by the Bijan Gaiser Foundation, a family formed to honor their loved one and advocate for victims of police brutality and gun violence.
“The pain, anger and frustration never subsides,” the organization said on Facebook. “… We hope you can join us and help keep up [Bijan’s] The spirit and memories are alive, and continue to demand accountability. We have not stopped fighting and will not stop.
Geiser died at a hospital on Nov. 27, 2017, 10 days after two park police officers shot him nine times on the George Washington Parkway at the Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue intersection. He was 25 years old.
A judge dismissed a criminal case against the officers, Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard, last year, saying they were “authorized under federal law to act as they did.” A dispatcher initially said Geyser was responsible for a hit-and-run, but later said his vehicle was actually hit, court documents said.
Mark Herring, Virginia’s attorney general at the time, appealed the verdict, supported by Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, but Attorney General Jason Miares dropped manslaughter charges against the officers in April after taking office.
After previously suggesting it would assist the prosecution, the Justice Department said in June it would not file federal charges against Amaya and Vineyard, stating that there was “no sufficient basis to reopen the preliminary investigation.”
Geiser’s family still has a personal injury civil lawsuit pending against the park police in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.
According to the Washington Post, Amaya and Vinyard refused to answer questions about their activities during depositions last month, prompting Geiser’s family to file a motion asking the judge to compel them to testify. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for Dec. 9.
In a joint statement released this morning, Virginia Sen. Mark R. Warner, Tim Kaine, Reps. Don Baer and Jennifer Wexton said the Department of the Interior, which includes the Park Police, has “taken many positive steps” in response. Geyser’s shooting, including a new requirement for officers to wear body cameras.
Still, lawmakers expressed frustration with the lack of accountability and transparency in federal investigations into the shooting, echoing sentiments expressed by elected officials over the past half-decade:
Today marks five years since Bijan was shot and killed by US Park Police. While we appreciate that the current leadership of the Department of Home Affairs has taken several positive steps to avoid a repeat of the failures that led to this young man’s tragic death, we are deeply disappointed in the Gaiser family’s pleas for justice. The closure has yet to be answered. Bijan’s friends and family deserve closure for his murder, which includes ensuring that the individuals responsible for his death are finally held accountable.
Investigations involving the use of force should be handled in a timely manner and ongoing information shared with the families involved and the public. Failure to do so undermines public trust in law enforcement and our institutions. It is our sincere hope that through increased transparency and communication, the Geyser family will finally get the closure they need.
According to the Post, both Vinyard and Amaya are on paid administrative leave and have not returned to active duty since the shooting. Last year the Home Department moved to expel them but they filed a challenge, which is still pending.