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Park Police officers charged with involuntary manslaughter in fatal 2017 shooting

Park Police officers charged with involuntary manslaughter in fatal 2017 shooting
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Two U.S. Park Police officers have been charged in the 2017 fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar.

Lucas Vinyard and Alejandro Amaya each face one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of reckless discharge of a firearm relating to the incident and were indicted on Thursday. 

Video footage of the incident shows officers firing multiple shots into the vehicle of Bijan Ghaisar, 25, after a car chase in Alexandria, Va. Ghaisar died days later. 

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“Bijan was struck by another car, left the scene and thereafter failed to pull over for U.S. Park Police. None of that should have led to his death,” Fairfax County, Va., Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano told reporters. 

The officers have argued that they acted in self-defense. 

“At the final stop, Amaya and Vinyard fired in reaction to Ghaisar’s vehicle moving at them. Additionally, if Amaya and Vinyard had allowed Ghaisar to keep going, they would have put more people in danger,” Amaya’s lawyers have written, according to local news outlets. 

Park Police spokesperson Roselyn Norment said in an email that the department is “reviewing the charges announced against the two officers involved in the 2017 incident”

According to The Washington Post, Amaya and Vinyard have remained on paid administrative duty at the Park Police since after the shooting occurred. 

The local charges come after the Justice Department declined to charge the officers. 

Descano said that the Justice Department refused to produce witnesses for a grand jury that brought the indictments. 

Park Police recently faced additional scrutiny over the use of force in June after using chemical agents to disperse protesters near the White House.