Iran: U.S. Accountable for 'Brutal' Police Killing of Unarmed Iranian American

A young American man of Iranian heritage was fatally shot by Virginia policemen following a car chase; his family says he was 'unarmed and presented no threat'

File photo: Policemen in Virginia
Wikimedia Commons

Iranian officials blasted the U.S. on Wednesday after a 25-year-old American man of Iranian heritage was shot to death by U.S. police officers in Alexandria, Virginia on November 17 following a car chase.

The young man was reportedly involved in a hit-and-run accident and was then pursued by U.S. Park Police forces until his car rolled into a ditch, at which point police forces are alleged to have approached the man, who was unarmed, and shot him in the head three times.   

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned what he called the "brutal murder" of Bijan C. Ghaisar, who died of his wounds at Inova Fairfax Hospital on Monday after ten days on life support.

"The Foreign Ministry is seriously pursuing the issue to immediately restore the rights of Iranian citizens through existing official channels," Qassemi stated Wednesday.

Qassemi was joined in his condemnation by the High Council for Human Rights of the Islamic Republic, stating that the "U.S. government should be held accountable for the murder and answer to the world's public opinion."

According to Iranian state media, the council also declared that it intended to address the United Nations with a request that the world body investigate the circumstances of Ghaisar's death and release its own report.

The council said it plans to pen a letter aimed at U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Additionally, it stated that it had contacted the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, to convey Tehran's distress over the young man's death to the U.S. administration.

The 25-year-old Ghaisar, of McLean, Virginia, was an accountant working for his father's firm and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Fox News reported Wednesday that prior to the shooting that led to Ghaisar's fatal injuries, a vehicle (presumably driven by the latter) fled a car crash scene and was then chased by police cars.  Ghaisar's family has said that police then approached their son and shot him three times, despite the fact that he was unarmed.

A witness speaking to the Washington Post earlier this week supported the family's version of the events, saying that she saw two officers approach a jeep and open fire at close range near Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue.

The family added in a statement: "The reason for the murder of our son has yet to be determined, though no reasoning could possibly justify the actions of the one or more Park Police officers involved in this unthinkable act. Bijan, a first-generation, American-born citizen of Iranian heritage, was peaceful and avidly anti-violence. He was unarmed. He presented no threat to anyone. After being shot three times in the head in his car, he was declared with irreversible brain damage. On the evening of Monday, November 27, our beloved son passed, in the same hospital in which he was born 25 short years ago."

The Federal Bureau of Investigations, which is now overseeing the probe into Ghainsar's death, stated that both Park Police and Fairfax county police were involved in the initial chase and that two police officers were involved in the shooting.

Fox News reported that the FBI declined to answer why police had chosen to deploy weapons in the incident, but said instead that the investigation was still ongoing.