Bijan Ghaisar's family and friends gather at a protest last February. Ghaisar was killed when park police fired nine gun shots into his Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Bijan Ghaisar's family and friends gather at a protest last February. Ghaisar was killed when park police fired nine gun shots into his Jeep Grand Cherokee.

On November 17, 2017, a police car chase that began on The George Washington Memorial Parkway ended with an unarmed man — 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar — being shot at nine times by U.S. Park Police as he sat at the wheel of his Jeep Grand Cherokee, in a residential neighborhood of Fairfax County. He died 10 days later.

Since Bijan’s killing two years ago, very few details from the FBI investigation into what happened that night have been made public. Bijan’s family has since refiled a lawsuit against the federal government and the director of the FBI was questioned about Ghaisar’s case in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in July.

Kojo sits down with Bijan’s mother, father and sister to discuss their quest for answers — and what it means to remember and mourn a loved one in the midst of a fight for justice.

A few hours after this show aired, the Justice Department announced they would not be pursuing criminal charges against the officers who killed Bijan Ghaisar.

Produced by Julie Depenbrock

Guests

  • James Ghaisar Bijan's Father
  • Kelly Ghaisar Bijan's Mother
  • Negeen Ghaisar Bijan's Sister
  • Roy Austin Attorney for the Ghaisar Family
  • Mark Warner Member, U.S. Senate, D-Va; Former Governor, Virginia

Transcript

  • 12:20:02

    KOJO NNAMDIWelcome back. On November 17th, 2017, a police car chase that began on the George Washington Memorial Parkway ended with an unarmed man, 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar, being shot at nine times by U.S. Park Police as he sat at the wheel of his Jeep Grand Cherokee in a residential neighborhood of Fairfax County. He died 10 days later. As the second anniversary of Bijan's killing approaches, very few details of the investigation into the events of that night have been made public, and Bijan's family has refiled a lawsuit against the federal government.

  • 12:20:37

    KOJO NNAMDISo, what's next in the family's quest for answers, and how are they able to mourn in the midst of a fight for justice? Members of Bijan Ghaisar's family joins us in studio. I will introduce each, individually. Kelly Ghaisar is Bijan's mother. Thank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:20:54

    KELLY GHAISARThank you, Kojo.

  • 12:20:55

    NNAMDIJames Ghaisar is Bijan's father. Thank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:20:59

    JAMES GHAISARThank you, sir.

  • 12:21:00

    NNAMDINegeen Ghaisar is Bijan's older sister. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:21:05

    NEGEEN GHAISARThank you.

  • 12:21:06

    NNAMDIAnd Roy Austin is one of the Ghaisar's family attorneys and a partner with the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis. Roy Austin, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:21:16

    ROY AUSTINGood afternoon. Thank you.

  • 12:21:17

    NNAMDIAnd U.S. Senator Mark Warner will be joining us from a Capitol Hill radio studio. Mark Warner is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate representing Virginia. Roy Austin, I’m wondering if we can start with you. What do we know about the details of Bijan Ghaisar's death?

  • 12:21:33

    AUSTINSo, we know very little, beyond the fact that Police Chief from Fairfax Rustler decided to provide us with the videotape of the killing. We know that, from the beginning, these officers were completely out of control, completely unprofessional, and conducted an unconstitutional stop. Three different occasions, they approached the car in a manner that violates policy and common sense. And the final time, they repeatedly shot at Bijan from close range, when there was no risk to the officers or anyone else.

  • 12:22:20

    NNAMDIWhen you say they approached the car or the Jeep, I think, in a way that violated policy and common sense, it's my understanding that, on each occasion, they approached is with their guns drawn. Is that correct?

  • 12:22:32

    AUSTINThat is correct.

  • 12:22:33

    NNAMDIAnd that is a violation of policy?

  • 12:22:34

    AUSTINWell, the issue was, this was over a minor fender-bender, in which Bijan was the victim. He was the one struck from behind. And, in this situation, officers are trained, if you need to perform a traffic stop at some later time, you pull up behind the vehicle, you approach the vehicle in a calm manner and you get the information you need. That's not what happened here in any way, shape or form. What happened here is they blocked the car from the beginning, jumped out of the car with their weapons drawn, and then proceeded to even strike the car with their guns, a number of things that no police department would ever train its officers to do.

  • 12:23:17

    NNAMDIA Fairfax County police officer was following Park Police as the chase unfolded and the dash cam footage from his patrol car shows that Bijan stopped his car twice during the chase, but drove away both times as the two Park Police officers approached his vehicle, you say, unprofessionally. But do you have any insights or possible reasons as to why Bijan did that?

  • 12:23:38

    AUSTINWe do not, other than the fact that anybody who is approached by a police officer, or by two police officers in that manner late at night, unprovoked, would very likely be concerned for their life, and would very likely be trying to get to a place where there were more people who could witness what these officers were doing.

  • 12:24:01

    NNAMDIAnd, just to confirm, the police report from the Fairfax County officers who were at the scene when Bijan was removed from his car after the shooting, states that no weapons or illicit substances were found. Correct?

  • 12:24:13

    AUSTINSo, absolutely no weapons were found. That is what we know, for a fact. There was never a threat to those officers or anyone else.

  • 12:24:23

    NNAMDIWhen we reached out to the U.S. Park Police for comment, their public information officer, Sergeant Eduardo Delgado, wrote back, quoting here: "The U.S. Park Police recognize the longstanding need for more information and details surrounding the investigation and the death of Bijan Ghaisar. In the interest of objectivity and impartiality, the United States Park Police transferred the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in November of 2017. The FBI is conducting this investigation. As such, we are neither able to speculate on elements of this investigation nor the release procedures of another agency."

  • 12:24:57

    NNAMDIWhen we reached out to the FBI for comment, they declined. The law enforcement stonewalling here has brought about rare bipartisan calls for transparency. Here now is Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, questioning FBI Director Christopher Wray about the case this past July.

  • 12:25:17

    CHUCK GRASSLEYI've sent several letters to the FBI regarding the investigation into the shooting of Bijan Ghaisar by the National Park Police. I haven't received a substantive response. When can I expect clear answers to my questions and a conclusion to that investigation, which I think now is 18 months old?

  • 12:25:38

    CHRISTOPHER WRAYWell, I'm not intimately familiar with the investigation, but I believe it is still ongoing. So, it would be premature for us to provide any substantive information at this point.

  • 12:25:47

    GRASSLEYYou know, you kind of get the feeling, with several of these incidences, that there might be something out there that's going to embarrass the FBI. Are you worried about embarrassing the FBI if some of this stuff's made public?

  • 12:25:59

    WRAYI am not having us withhold any information out of fear of embarrassment to the FBI.

  • 12:26:05

    GRASSLEYOkay.

  • 12:26:06

    WRAYWe take our share of lumps, and I embrace that as part of the process. The FBI's made its share of mistakes over the years, and you've, I think, played an important role, in some cases, in highlighting some of those mistakes. And I think one of the things that distinguishes the FBI from a lot of other organizations is our commitment to learning from those mistakes.

  • 12:26:27

    NNAMDIThat's FBI Director Christopher Wray, responding to questioning from U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa. James Ghaisar, you are Bijan's father. I wonder what your response is when you hear what you just heard from the director of the FBI.

  • 12:26:44

    GHAISARI am positive, like them, like everybody we know, that the silence, I mean, on top of the fact that, you know, public need to know, we have a loss that is unbelievably hard on us. I don't know how to describe it, but I'm trying to learn how to live with the grief, that permanent hole in my heart. So, it is a nightmare every day, you know, starting with the denial, and then go through the whole five phases of grief, and just over and over and over again. So, yes, we are anxious to know more about it. And, hopefully, the only thing we can wish here is justice, because unfortunately nothing can bring our son back.

  • 12:27:50

    NNAMDISenator Mark Warner is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate representing Virginia. He and Senator Chuck Grassley, who you just heard from, a Republican representing Iowa, have continued to press the FBI and U.S. Park Police for information about what happened to Bijan. Senator Warner joins us now from studios in the U.S. Senate. Senator Mark Warner, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:28:13

    MARK WARNERThank you, Kojo.

  • 12:28:14

    NNAMDIYou've been met with refusals from the FBI and the U.S. Park Police to comment on their investigation into Bijan Ghaisar's death. How do you account for this lack of response?

  • 12:28:26

    WARNERWell, Kojo, first of all, let me just say I am embarrassed by the response of our government to this tragedy. It's not right. It's not fair. I had the opportunity to meet with Bijan's parents at an event, it wasn't about Bijan, over a year ago. And my impression is they are remarkable people. And you just heard from James, the tragedy, how it still affects him. And I think about -- I've got three daughters in their 20s -- if this had happened to one of them, and to be sitting two years after the fact with no answers, I don't know how they control their rage, frustration, disappointment.

  • 12:29:25

    WARNERAnd let me just take a moment or two, I mean, the family contacted -- we got involved -- Senator Tim Kaine got involved, Congressman Don Beyer got involved. I contacted Chuck Grassley, because he's been active on these kind of investigations in the past to make this bipartisan. He's more senior than me. Senator Grassley's been involved. We have had -- our paper of record, the Washington Post, has been very, very active and editorialized on this subject repeatedly. And if four members of Congress, the Washington Post can't get this family the decency of answers, it is so wrong on every level.

  • 12:30:22

    WARNERLet me tell you what we have achieved, which, by no means, is enough. Number one, I have repeatedly gone to the previous Park Service director and as recently as two weeks ago with the acting National Park Service Director David Vela to say, this process of what happened -- because these were Park Police, there's not as much -- I don't think as much training, as many incidents of kind of violence. This was the Fairfax Police or the State Police. These are Park Police. You know, they monitor the parkway, the G. W. Parkway, the Baltimore Washington Parkway in our greater Washington area.

  • 12:31:07

    WARNERAnd, you know, this just isn't right. We have seen the Park Police be willing to change their training procedures after enormous amounts of pressure. We still don't have enough clarity from the Park Police on what are the procedures in terms of use of firearms particularly, as the attorney pointed out, where Bijan showed no evidence of threatening to any law officer. So, we've made incremental progress with the Park Police, not enough. Their response continues to be, you know, well, we've turned it over to the FBI.

  • 12:31:46

    WARNEROnly through the actions of the Ghaisar family were we able to obtain the names of the officers involved. You know, we requested, I requested, Grassley requested, you know, others requested. Only through kind of, I believe, a FOIA request were they, the family able to get the names of the officers. That literally five or six months afterwards, was the first time they were even put on any level of administrative (word?).

  • 12:32:16

    NNAMDIBut Senator Warner, what's your next move, here?

  • 12:32:18

    WARNERNo, let me just finish this, please. It's one more -- so, that took too long. I have been in regular contact with the FBI. And the FBI, you know, gave me -- and I've shared this with the family, I can't share it with the whole listening audience, somewhat of a level of status of numbers of interviews that have taken place which just don't pass the smell test in terms of why it's taking this many interviews and this long for a circumstance that, you know, we kind of know the universe of individuals that were involved. And thank goodness, in many ways, the Fairfax Police were involved to make sure that we had the video that now has given us this level of proof.

  • 12:33:04

    WARNERI am going to continue to press on the FBI. There is something wrong in our legal system that this family, two years after the death of their son, that they have no answers, that no one has been brought to justice, and they don't have a full explanation. And I'm going to end with where I started, Kojo, which is I am embarrassed by the performance of the United States Government that they don't have more response, and that four members of congress and the Washington Post have not been able to secure this family the kind of, at least, beginning answers beyond the question of what they ultimately needed, which is justice.

  • 12:33:37

    NNAMDIBut, Senator Warner, what kind of leverage does the Congress have with the FBI? Patty called in to ask: Congress has the power of the purse. Why doesn't congress, Senator Grassley, Senator Warner, their counterparts in the House just zero the Park Police and FBI funding until there's acknowledgement?

  • 12:33:56

    WARNERThose options, in terms of holding back funds, restricting funds is one of the next steps that we've started some conversations on. What we had presumed and what I had expected, having had a conversation with some of the senior-most level officials at the FBI who, within the chain of command, are overseeing this investigation, I never in my wildest dreams thought that James and Kelly and Negeen would still be, this many months after that conversation, still waiting to get answers in having this investigation come to some level of conclusion. So, it is time for us to move to the next steps.

  • 12:34:44

    NNAMDISenator Mark Warner is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate, representing Virginia. Mark Warner, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:34:51

    WARNERThank you, Kojo. And to the Ghaisar family, again, we are all committed, but I just can't imagine, two years after Bijan's murder, shooting, that our government is not giving you a better explanation of what happened.

  • 12:35:14

    GHAISARThank you, Senator. Thank you so much.

  • 12:35:16

    NNAMDIRoy Austin, do you know of any other cases involving the Park Police that have taken this long to make details available to the public?

  • 12:35:23

    AUSTINSo, I do not know of any other matters with the Park Police where they have shot and killed someone that have taken this long. Unfortunately, a number of these civil rights cases being investigated by the U.S. Government seem to take years, when the answer is pretty obvious, and that these things should be moving forward toward justice much sooner with prosecutions. So, I don't have an explanation for why it would take this long.

  • 12:35:50

    NNAMDIThe family has refilled a lawsuit against the federal government that was previously dismissed on technical grounds. What does that suit say?

  • 12:35:58

    AUSTINSo, the suit says that these officers, both individually and -- well, these officers individually violated the 4th Amendment by taking Bijan's life, and that the U.S. Government is responsible. So, it's under what's called a Bivens Action and under the Federal Tort Claims Act is how the lawsuit is proceeding. And we have not been able to get answers through the FBI, and so the family has had no choice but to seek answers through our civil justice system.

  • 12:36:32

    NNAMDIWhy did the lawsuit have to be refiled?

  • 12:36:34

    AUSTINIt was a matter of exactly who were the representatives of Bijan's estate and making sure that that was noted properly in the original lawsuit. It was truly a technical matter.

  • 12:36:52

    NNAMDIHow will you be able to move this case forward?

  • 12:36:55

    AUSTINSo, we are in the Federal District Courts in the northern district of Virginia. And we will move it forward as civil cases move forward through our complaints and our pleadings.

  • 12:37:08

    NNAMDIAnd I guess this is a frustration that both you and the family feels. Jody emails us: isn't the Fairfax police video obvious enough? Why on earth were these officers pursuing him as if he were a criminal instead of treating him as the victim of an accident? There is no excuse for this delay. I suspect that's a lot of public sentiment, too.

  • 12:37:29

    AUSTINShe is absolutely, 1,000 percent correct. Anyone can look at this video and see exactly what happened here, and that what happened here was criminal and wrong and unjust.

  • 12:37:41

    NNAMDINegeen Ghaisar, I'd like to talk to you about your brother. Not just about what happened that night two years ago, but about who Bijan was as a person. What can you tell us about him?

  • 12:37:53

    GHAISARI think, to start off, Bij was the funniest person I think anyone who knew him had ever met. (laugh) He could make anyone laugh. He was just a huge presence in any room. You could just feel him around. He was super-inclusive. He would make sure anyone who felt left out in the corner of the room not talking to anyone was, you know, incorporated into the conversation, was, you know, comfortable.

  • 12:38:25

    GHAISARHe never liked being a burden on anyone, so a lot of the times, we feel bad that, you know, he wouldn't want us to, you know, have to do anything for him, ever. And he was always doing things for everyone else. He was just very giving, all the time. You know, he had like an intuitive sense, so he just would call at the right time. He was there at the right time. And, again, he was hilarious, so he didn't like anyone being sad. So, he would just make sure he could, you know, get a little giggle out of you if, you know, you looked like you might cry or, you know...

  • 12:39:02

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Did he get any giggles out of you by mimicking people he'd been listening to on...

  • 12:39:07

    GHAISAROh gosh, yes.

  • 12:39:09

    NNAMDI...the radio?

  • 12:39:10

    GHAISARSo, yes, I'm not sure how you know that, but growing up, on the way to school, my dad -- or anywhere, basically, NPR was the only thing that we would ever listen to. So, we actually had this, like, long-running joke between the two of us. I'm not good with impressions, but he was very good with impressions. He would do you, Kojo, actually, more than anyone. (laugh)

  • 12:39:35

    NNAMDI(laugh) I have trouble doing me.

  • 12:39:36

    GHAISARIt was you, Diane Rehm and All Things Considered. So, those were the three that was just constantly playing, even when we weren't listening to it (laugh) for ourselves. In the hospital, I actually -- those 10 days, I would try to, like, I guess make him feel better in his coma. So, I would just try to come up with little things from, like, our memories that would maybe make him feel better in the moment. And that was one of the things I, you know, in an awful way, I would try to mimic.

  • 12:40:10

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Two years ago that would've been just flattering for me. Now, it's the downright honor. Thank you very much.

  • 12:40:15

    GHAISARThank you.

  • 12:40:16

    NNAMDIJames, your son was an accountant. You even worked together at the same firm. What are your fondest memories of him?

  • 12:40:23

    GHAISARWell, if you allow me, I'm going to read what he wrote on my Facebook on my 60th birthday. And I think that briefly would describe as who he was and what values he'd hold and what our relationship are. So, briefly, I'm going to read. He says, you have been my best friend, my boss and my role model. But most importantly you have been my father. You always told me that there's no need to chase your dream if you live them every day, work hard and then play.

  • 12:41:07

    GHAISARWe have been able to go all over the word together, and I thank you for that. You took me to your hometown to show me that humble beginnings put life in perspective. You have always said that a true happiness comes from helping others. You have taught me to be kind, courteous (crying) and humble, but to also own the room.

  • 12:41:38

    GHAISARYou have always said, don't overdo it. And if you truly believe it, then you will find a way to succeed. You have always told me that, in life, one can build many things, but there is nothing like building a family. I hope one day I can be as great of a father to my kids (crying) as you have been to Negeen and me. Cheers to 60 years of living, and a dream, and many more to come. I love you, Papa. (crying) I think this would not only tell you who he was and what our relationships -- I mean, he was definitely, now I feel, a very old soul in the body of a 25-year-old kid.

  • 12:42:25

    NNAMDISome memories of Bijan Ghaisar. We're going to take a short break now so we can all collect ourselves. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:43:24

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking with family members and the attorney of Bijan Ghaisar, who was shot to death by U.S. Park Police officers two years ago. And there has been no information given whatsoever about the FBI investigation that has been taking place for these last two years. Marie emails: I lost my son two months before the Ghaisars lost Bijan. My son died of undiagnosed type I diabetes, and I've dedicated my life to raising awareness of this disease.

  • 12:43:58

    NNAMDII know about the hole in the heart that will never go away from the death of a child, as Mr. Ghaisar describes. But to lose a child and now understand why, and to witness the callous disregard of that child's life by the agencies that are supposed to protect us is unfathomable. I'm grateful for the many members of Congress and the Washington Post who have not given up their quest to uncover the reasons behind this terrible act. Kelly Ghaisar, as the mother of Bijan, what do you want people to know about Bijan, the kind of person he was?

  • 12:44:34

    GHAISARWell, Bijan was one of the nicest, as Negeen said, funniest people that I know. I am so honored that I was given the gift of Bijan for 25 years. He was my best friend, and we always talked about things that usually son and moms don't talk about, like football, and I love football, and movies. And he was, as Negeen said, very inclusive. Bijan was super-caring. He was super-funny.

  • 12:45:28

    GHAISARAnd one of the things that I always say about Bijan, that I have never in my life met a young person or an adult that can enter a room and get the reception that Bijan did. It would always leave me in awe that, out of nowhere, wherever we were at family gatherings or school events or sports events at school where he played, as soon as he would walk into a room, everybody was like, Bij, Bij, Bij is here. Hey, Bij, Bij, Bij. And it was all of us there, and so many other people, but there has to be a reason why someone gets that kind of reception.

  • 12:46:20

    GHAISARAnd it was simply, I believe, the fact that he was so caring and so humble. And, on his last birthday, I wrote to him, I said: I wish you all the best in the year to come. And that was September of 2017, which was like a few -- yes, before his death. And Bijan wrote back, he says, thank you, mommy, but I only want what I need. I think that says everything that needs to be said about Bijan. And I do know Bijan, or no one, deserves to die the way he did.

  • 12:47:18

    NNAMDIThere are a couple of people who know the family, who would like to comment. First, here's Kavon in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. Kavon, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:47:27

    KAVONHey, good afternoon. How are you guys? I just wanted to really express my condolences to the family once again. I mean, it's been two years, and just like the family's been saying, the extended family -- which I'd like to include myself a part of -- is also getting frantic. And the frustration of the family is extending upon us as extended family, but also because I was a close friend of Bijan, as well.

  • 12:47:57

    KAVONSo, because of the frustration that has come onto me as a citizen of the state, as a citizen of the Commonwealth, I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed that the federal government and the state that we live in, and have lived in for my whole life and their whole lives, has let us down.

  • 12:48:19

    NNAMDIThank you very much for sharing those thoughts with us, Kavon. I think you all know Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia. Congressman Don Beyer, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:48:28

    CONGRESSMAN DON BEYERThank you, Kojo. Thanks so much for having Kelly and James on the show and bringing attention of this. I just wanted to give you three quick updates. I'm working with Chairman Raul Grijalva of the Natural Resources Committee in the House on a letter to Chief MacLean, who's now the head law enforcement officer at Interior about...

  • 12:48:47

    NNAMDIWe're going to get to that shortly.

  • 12:48:48

    BEYER...yeah, reviewing the Park Police protocols and regulations. Because it's very clear these officers violated both the chase policy and the weapons policy in the Bijan case. And then with Eleanor Holmes Norton, we passed an amendment requiring that Department of Interior do body cameras for all of its law enforcement. So far, the main agency has done it, but not the sub agencies, and we need to push on that.

  • 12:49:16

    BEYERAnd then, in line with what Senator Warner and Senator Grassley have done with the Department of Justice, we have a letter going out this week saying, you know, color of law investigations don't take this long. It's two years. The whole notion which, you know, the Ghaisars have said so eloquently, that justice delayed is justice denied.

  • 12:49:37

    BEYERAnd a subset of that is we really want the 911 tape released. You know, the Fairfax County Chief Roessler graciously let the Fairfax County videotape out, but we still don't know what the 911 call said and what that may have provoked. So, we're trying, in a very frustrated way, to help bring justice as quickly as we can.

  • 12:50:02

    NNAMDIDon Beyer, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:50:05

    BEYERYeah, thank you, Kojo.

  • 12:50:06

    NNAMDIAnd Don Beyer's a congressman -- a member of the U.S. Congress. He's a Democrat from Virginia. The Chief of Park Police at the time, you just heard his name, Robert MacLean, met with this family to explain the reasons for their silence on Bijan's death. Here's what he told Fox 5 DC's Paul Wagner back in August.

  • 12:50:26

    CHIEF ROBERT MACLEANWhat I decided to do was have the FBI investigate it to bring that impartiality and objectivity. I met with the Ghaisar family after the incident to explain the reason why. And that's what you do in law enforcement, is to afford that public to have the transparency for our actions of allowing an objective, outside partner investigate our critical incidences like that.

  • 12:50:54

    NNAMDINegeen, were you satisfied with that response?

  • 12:50:56

    GHAISARAbsolutely not. I think Chief Robert MacLean should not only not be getting his promotion, but he should be fired and questioned for everything that he's done in this case, from the second my brother was shot, up until now. I think that everything that he said is a complete sham. I think that I personally remember that we weren't allowed to record him when he came in. He didn't come to visit us until the case was turned over to the FBI, after we had multiple bad incidents with the two police officers under his watch who were watching my brother's room, not allowing us to see him, restricting our access to him, not allowing us to touch him, calling him a perp.

  • 12:51:33

    GHAISARAnd then, to top it off, within hours before he came and the FBI took over, they actually told a chaplain, a nondenominational chaplain, that we had waited 48 hours to come and visit my brother so that she could touch him on our behalf to read a Rumi poem, because we are nondenominational. They told her that she couldn't touch him, because he was a Muslim. And that is when he actually showed up here and the FBI took over, within hours of that.

  • 12:52:01

    GHAISARAnd we had multiple incidents like that in those three days leading up to the FBI taking over. So, no, I don't believe anything that Robert MacLean has to say, and I have no respect for his answer.

  • 12:52:12

    NNAMDIKelly, Robert MacLean has since been promoted to the top law enforcement position at the Interior Department. He was praised for his, quoting here, "stellar record." How did you feel when you heard about his promotion?

  • 12:52:22

    GHAISARDisgusted. I think Robert MacLean is -- I have never been able to use bad language, but I'm very tempted. I think Robert MacLean, the least, is a coward. He did not serve or protect his community by covering up this murder. And for our government to promote him to Interior Department is another shameful act in this case.

  • 12:53:05

    GHAISARAnd I just feel like what happened to Bijan, from the first second up until now, is a tsunami of bad judgments, of bad actions, of just -- I have -- I cannot tell you. After two years of sitting here and not one government official come to us and even acknowledge the fact that our son was murdered by one of their members, it's appalling. It's unbelievable. It's a nightmare. It is a disrespect. I am ashamed that we live in a society that this is permitted. I really am.

  • 12:53:56

    NNAMDIHere's Karen in Washington, D.C. Karen, we don't have a great deal of time left but go ahead, please.

  • 12:54:01

    KARENI've been a friend of James' end of the family, as well as James for nearly 40 years. This is a man with the soul of a poet. He has, on his office walls, a picture of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. I want to bring up a point that Kelly just touched on. If we remember that, two years ago, there was a kind of a hysteria in this country in the media about the Muslim ban and the eight nations from which we would not accept tourists or immigrants, I think that this is directly related to a kind of reaction of the police.

  • 12:54:36

    KARENIf Bijan looked Middle Eastern, and that sort of hysteria I think would have contributed to this. And I think that our leadership ought to be showing us the better way of our natures, and not the worst way of our natures. And the police are meant to be the adults in the room and not do what they did. And my heart breaks for this, but I think it's a point that is probably why the FBI doesn't want to release any information.

  • 12:55:10

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. Taylor emails: I met Negeen in 6th grade. We were both new to our elementary school at the time. The Ghaisars are the most welcoming, loving, genuine family, and I am heartbroken for them that Bij is no longer physically here with us. I'm so sorry for you that you still do not have justice, that our government can't own their actions, and that you have to live every day of your life. I'm so grateful for you that you have the support system that you have. And I am here from afar. I support you all. We are Bijan.

  • 12:55:41

    NNAMDIWe're running out of time very quickly, but, James, you have said that you are not seeking revenge, that you want justice, that nothing can bring Bijan back. But what would justice look like for you?

  • 12:55:52

    GHAISARWell, justice for me is that, of course, these two officers, Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard, have committed a crime, and they deserve to be punished according to the law. I think that would be the right thing to do, not only for us, but for the society, for this country. That there is the rule of law, and if you do something wrong you will be punished. And, of course, the outcome of this we hope there will be changes, so literally, in the future, somebody else's life was not wasted like this. So, we are hoping for that to resolve. And thanks to all the officials that are helping us to achieve this.

  • 12:56:44

    NNAMDIJames Ghaisar is Bijan Ghaisar's father. Thank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:56:48

    GHAISARThank you, sir.

  • 12:56:49

    NNAMDIKelly Ghaisar is Bijan's mother. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:56:52

    GHAISARThank you, Kojo.

  • 12:56:53

    NNAMDINegeen is Bijan's older sister. Thank you for joining us.

  • 12:56:57

    GHAISARThank you, Kojo.

  • 12:56:58

    NNAMDIAnd Roy Austin is one of the Ghaisar family's attorneys and a partner with the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis, LLP. Roy Austin, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:57:08

    AUSTINThank you so much, Kojo, for having us today.

  • 12:57:10

    NNAMDIThis segment about the death of Bijan Ghaisar was produced by Julie Depenbrock. And our update on the incidence of racist graffiti at Salisbury University was produced by Lauren Markoe and Laura Spitalniak. Coming up tomorrow on The Politics Hour, D.C. Councilmember Vincent Gray will be here to talk about his new bit for reelection and about United Medical Center, among other things. Plus, Montgomery County council President Nancy Navarro will share her thoughts on the county's new economic development platform. That's tomorrow, streaming live only at noon on The Politics Hour. Until then, thank you for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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