Beyer, Grijalva request Interior Department briefing on issues raised by Bijan Ghaisar shooting

Photo Credit: W. Scott McGill

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and House Natural Resources Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) wrote to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt seeking a briefing on “unresolved questions that were raised” by the shooting of unarmed 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar by U.S. Park Police.

Their letter came a day after the Justice Department closed its two-year investigation of the shooting without filling criminal charges.

They wrote:

“November 17th, 2019 marks the two-year anniversary of the shooting death by U.S. Park Police of 25-year-old Virginian Bijan Ghaisar. We write to request a briefing to discuss unresolved questions that were raised by this case.

“In a February 26, 2018 meeting, then-US Park Police Chief MacLean mentioned to Congressman Beyer that Interior would wait to conduct an internal review of the investigation until after the Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded their review. The review has now concluded. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has already had two years to make its own improvements to relevant policies brought to light by this case. There should not be any more delays.
“At an April 18, 2018 briefing with DOI, we were told that DOI was piloting a Department-wide body-worn camera policy. DOI staff informed us that participation in the pilot was voluntary for all divisions, and that it was unclear if there would be a future budget set-aside, as it was currently using unobligated funds.

“We understood that the Department aimed to implement those IG recommendations and update its policies. However the DOI policy deferred to bureau policies on some of the most contentious questions. At the briefing, we learned that DOI had no intention to require the bureaus to create or update their policies. We request a briefing to answer questions…”

The shooting of Bijan Ghaisar occurred in Beyer’s Northern Virginia district on Nov. 17, 2017.

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