Kelly Ghaisar lives in McLean. She is the mother of Bijan Ghaisar.
Another Christmas is behind us, and another new year lies ahead without answers for my family. Without our Bijan, we don’t celebrate these milestones anymore. We don’t know how to live. We can’t move on until we get the truth about what happened to Bij. Until we learn why my son’s life was so senselessly taken from us. Until we get justice.
Until we get that, all can wait.
On Nov. 17, 2017, my 25-year-old son — who was unarmed and posed no threat — was shot point-blank in his car by U.S. Park Police officers who had pursued him after he drove away from a minor accident on the George Washington Parkway. For more than a year, we have waited in vain for the FBI, which is investigating the case, to tell us something — anything — about why these officers acted as they did. Stunningly, we still don’t even know the officers’ names.
I will never again see Bijan pull into our driveway, the sun shining off his green Jeep and his music blasting. I will never again look out over the kitchen sink and be greeted with his “What’s up, Mom?” nod during one of his visits home. We were best friends. He had the biggest heart, gave the tightest hugs and lit up every room he entered. I miss my son.
Thousands of people have watched on video the terrifying moments that led to Bijan’s execution — that is the only word I have for it — by two Park Police officers who shined a flashlight on him as they fired their bullets into his car.
I haven’t watched the full video. His father, James, and his older sister, Negeen, relayed the horrific details after they viewed it at the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia a year ago. I cannot watch two strangers kill my Bij. I know how it ends. There are no words to describe what it’s like to live now. Every day I wake up reminded that he is gone. It is unbearable.
We’ve lost more than our Bijan and the light he brought to this family and this world. We’ve lost confidence in a system that we had respected and had faith in all of our lives.
Park Police Chief Robert D. MacLean still has not even acknowledged that his department’s officers shot and killed my son. After three days of confusion, with my family enduring a pain we did not know existed, the FBI took over the investigation. No one from the Park Police or the Interior Department has been held accountable.
These officers killed my unarmed, anti-gun and anti-violence son with five bullets — four in his head and one in his wrist. We have a right to know who they are. While we grieve, they get to wake up every morning, take a shower, shave and go about their days. They get to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
Of the many questions that haunt me, one is why these officers enjoy protections that others do not. If a doctor harms a patient, the doctor is identified and held accountable. If a bus driver kills a person in a crosswalk, the bus driver is identified and held accountable. But apparently, if you are a Park Police officer, even when you don’t follow your own department’s rules governing the handling and use of firearms, you enjoy special status as part of an untouchable fraternity. This cruelty, this entitlement, cannot stand.
I will forever be devastated knowing that my son’s last conscious moments were filled with terror. I know my son better than anyone, and I know the fear he felt seeing these officers raging at him with their guns pointed at his head, banging on his windows and kicking his car.
This was my family’s second Christmas without our Bijan. Through all of our pain we have been carried by the love of others. I like to think Bij is doing his share from heaven to help us through this and put these angels in our paths. We would not have survived this past year without our family and friends, including those who have been brought into our lives because of this tragedy, not to mention our elected officials, who have reached out and showed up to our vigils and demonstrations to remember Bijan and demand justice.
We cannot have Bij back. But we can honor his legacy, and that we will continue to do. I hope this year brings transparency so we can have some closure and restore our faith in our justice system. I’m not optimistic, but we will not give up.
Give us answers. Give us the names. Give us justice.