Every officer faces a count of involuntary manslaughter and a count of reckless release from a firearm, British Community lawyer Steve Descano told a news conference. The charges total a maximum of 15 years in prison.
“I wish this could be done faster,” Descano said on Thursday. “However, there are no shortcuts to justice.”
In a statement, Geisar’s family said their hearts were “a little lighter” and that police officers were “closer to being held accountable for what they did”.
“Too many people who have sworn to protect and serve our communities are committing heinous acts of violence and go unpunished,” the statement said. “These allegations remind us that, at least here in Fairfax County, officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vineyard are not above the law.”
The employees’ lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
He was also a staunch opponent of the violence, his family said.
On the evening of November 17, 2017, Geisar was driving south on the George Washington Memorial Park outside Washington when he was in the back end, according to a report of a collision received by CNN. For some reason, Geisar left the crash site, which is illegal in Virginia, and police in the park soon found his car and began a chase.
The vehicle of the park police officers did not have a camera on the dashboard, nor were they with body cameras. But footage of the meeting was taken from the dashboard of a Fairfax County police officer who joined the chase in support of police in the park.
According to these footage published by Fairfax police in January 2018, Geisar stopped at least three times. Each time, park police officers got out of their own jeeps and approached Geisar’s car with their weapons drawn.
The first two stops, Gaisar maneuvers his vehicle around the police and moves away, the footage shows. At no point were the police in danger of being hit by Geisar’s vehicle.
At the third stop, the police SUV in the park stops in front of Gaisar’s vehicle and the officers get out. As Geisar’s car moved forward, a series of shots were fired. Geisar’s jeep was spotted idling rolling in a roadside ditch.
Geisar was hospitalized and died 10 days later.
The Justice Department did not cooperate in the Fairfax investigation, the prosecutor said
The FBI took over the investigation three days after the shooting, but the Justice Department remained virtually silent until last November, when it announced that no charges would be filed against Vineyard and Amaya.
“We have so much anger and we fight so hard and we have so much pain that we don’t even have a minute to process or grieve,” Negain Geisar, Bijan’s sister, told CNN about a year after the shooting.
Descano took over the case from his predecessor after his election last year. On Thursday, he called the case “complex and nuanced”, citing a review of 11,000 documents and interviews conducted in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The difficulty with this was the refusal of the US Department of Justice to bring witnesses in favor of our large hearing or trial,” Descano said, adding that his case must rely entirely on evidence gathered by Fairfax County police.
The justice ministry declined to comment on Thursday.
Descano said he believed officials would try to take the case to federal court and that the federal government would try to drop the case under a supremacy clause that says that in the event of a conflict between state and federal laws, the latter takes precedence.
Descano’s cabinet is ready, he said, and his office has asked for help from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in case there are any federal lawsuits.