On the 26th of January, Bijan Gaisar’s family and friends spoke at a massive protest in front of the US Dept of the Interior, demanding the names of the two US Park Police officers who shot him dead.
On Friday, Nov 17, 2017, US Park Police approached his vehicle with drawn guns after a chase that began over a fender bender in which he had been the victim, struck from behind. At the end of the chase, he may have seen the guns, reacted, and tried to escape with his life.
Bijan’s sister pointed out in her speech that the entire pursuit violated US Park Police policy, as well as the blatent illegality police firing on a driver for nothing more than trying to drive away from a traffic stop. That sort of thing is only legal for things like armed and dangerous robbery suspects. Interestingly, it would have been entirely legal for police to stop Charlottesville terrorist James Field’s clearly visible damaged Dodge Charger by shooting him dead, or by shooting out two or more tires. Instead, he was taken into custody without a single shot being fired-and he did not ram to police officers who did so even though he had killed one person and put 19 others in the hospital with the exact same car.
By comparison Bijan Gaisar’s role in the intial crash was as the VICTIM, with no harmful intentions against anyone, and was shot dead in volation of both procedure and law for driving away from a traffic stop.
For whatever reason (maybe disoriented by impact?) he drove away from being struck from behind and US Park Police in violation of their own policies chose to pursue. They then shot he 9 bullets fired at Bijan in four separate bursts. His family and friends want body cameras on all US Park Police, all of the time. They want the names of the two killer cops, and want these two “aggressors” brought to justice for their crimes.
Ugly Virginia traffic laws may have also played a role in this: Virginia is a state that arrests drivers for speeding 10mph over a 70mph speed limit, and arrests for “reckless driving.” Thus, it is no surprise that Virginia declares leaving the scene of an accident to be a felony if there was property damage. This, in turn, causes cops to treat stops of such motorists as “felony stops” and some cops draw their guns for this. Of course, drawing a gun greatly increases the risk that the person drawn upon will upon seeing the weapons decide that survival depends on escape-or upon pre-emptive attack-at any price. Thus armed “felony stops” essentially guarantee shootings by escalating the situation until this outcome will always occur some of the time, especially when racism is factored in. Bijan’s sister said he was very afraid of guns and had never handled one, so it stands to reason that on seeing guns, he would see fleeing as his only chance to survive, expecting to be shot if he stayed on the scene rather than for trying to get out of range.