To the Editor:
I am Barrie Masters, a retired Army Colonel and father of David Alan Masters who was killed by a Fairfax County police officer on a rainy afternoon, Nov. 13, 2009, while sitting in his Chevrolet Blazer stopped at a traffic light on Route 1 and Fort Hunt Road in Fairfax County. He was killed by Officer David A. Ziants who had been following David’s vehicle for about a mile in his police cruiser before firing the fatal shot, point blank, though the rear window of David’s car. Ziants had reached into the rear window and fired a shot that entered David’s left shoulder from the rear travelling downward through his aorta and heart before coming to rest inside his rib case. David died almost instantly, and his vehicle then careened across the road before coming to rest. He was covered in blood. It is clear that Ziants shot was intended to kill David. David was unarmed.
Prior to the shooting, David had collected about five dollars’ worth of flowers from a road-side stand that appeared to be on an empty lot. It was two days after Veteran’s Day, David who was proudly wearing his military uniform and Green Beret, was on his way to put some flowers on a veteran’s grave, something he did every year. At the time, officer Ziants said he knew nothing about the flower incident, he said he thought he was chasing a car thief. Fairfax County has just released a dashcam video of Ziants’ slow speed car chase and the fatal shooting. Two other officers in a separate police cruiser were present at the shooting. They both can be heard on the video reacting with shock at Ziants actions; “Dude what have you done”, and Ziants can be heard saying:” You saw him pull a gun right?” To which, there was no reply.
The release of this dash cam video, almost six years after the fatal shooting, is the first release of any information by Fairfax County authorities. Countless requests for investigative reports under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act have been flatly rejected by the police and the county. The Virginia statutes on FOI give the police protection in this regard. At least that is their claim. What are they afraid of six years after the event? In agreeing to release the dash cam video, the existence of which has never been disclosed before, Chief Edwin Roessler stated: “The local criminal investigation has been completed; the U.S. Department of Justice investigation has been completed; and there is no pending or threatened litigation.” He also proudly said that “Ziants had been found in violation of General Orders prohibiting the use of deadly force and fired.” Chief Roessler apparently thought that there was no incriminating evidence on the video.
If all these alleged investigations have been completed and the officer found in violation of general orders concerning the use of deadly force, why has he not been prosecuted, and why have the reports not been released? Any number of organizations could order the release of the investigative reports: the police, the district attorney, a court and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. I can only call for public pressure to bring this about and to end this conspiracy of silence concerning the death of my son. I am calling for justice.