Beyer, Norton, Wexton Demand FBI Authorize Release Of Bijan Ghaisar Case 9-1-1 Recordings
Washington, DC, November 18, 2019
November 18, 2019 Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton today sent a letter pressing FBI Director Chris Wray to authorize the release of 9-1-1 recordings connected to the November 2017 shooting of Bijan Ghaisar by U.S. Park Police. Their letter came a day after the three Members of Congress joined the Ghaisar family at a Lincoln Memorial vigil marking the two-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar.
“Given that the Department of Justice review of the case is concluded, there should be no impediment to its disclosure now. As you know, we found the two-year period it took to resolve the case unacceptable and remain concerned with the result.
“The people of the National Capital Region demand high transparency and accountability standards from their local government and law enforcement entities. We ask that you allow the local entities to publicly release the 9-1-1 records affiliated with the Ghaisar case.”
The November 17, 2017 police encounter with Ghaisar began after he was involved in a car accident with another motorist, who called 9-1-1. The subsequent police pursuit of Ghaisar ended when two U.S. Park Police officers fired 10 shots at him, wounds from which he later died in the hospital. Officials and Ghaisar’s family have long sought the 9-1-1 recordings to see whether they would provide any insight into why the officers violated U.S. Park Police protocols restricting the use of deadly force against Ghaisar, who was unarmed and showed no evident threat to the public.
The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it would close its civil rights investigation into the case without filing criminal charges.
Text of the letter follows below, and a signed copy is available here and below.
The Honorable Christopher A. Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 7240
Washington, DC 20535-0001
Dear Director Wray:
We are writing to request that the FBI grant local entities permission to publicly disclose the 9-1-1 phone call recordings that are affiliated with the Bijan Ghaisar case. Congressman Beyer first made this request in a March 26, 2018 letter. This is a follow-up request.
Given that the Department of Justice review of the case is concluded, there should be no impediment to its disclosure now. As you know, we found the two-year period it took to resolve the case unacceptable and remain concerned with the result. The long delays in completing the DOJ investigation only served to stoke mistrust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. We firmly believe that investigations involving the use of deadly force should be handled in a timely manner that reinforces public confidence in law enforcement. Releasing these recordings would be an important element of rebuilding trust.
Please respond in writing no later than December 5, 2019.