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19-year-old demands answers from US Park Police after alleged aggressive traffic stop

Alexandra McGuire, of Silver Spring, said she was repeatedly asked if she had a gun while driving to a picnic. The Black Yale student said she was intimidated.

ARLINGTON, Va. — A 19-year-old Maryland woman is demanding transparency from the United States Park Police after she said she was pulled over by an officer, without cause, on the George Washington Parkway.

Alexandra McGuire, of Silver Spring, said she was driving southbound on the GW Parkway, near the Key Bridge, on June 7 when a USPP officer began to tail her car.

“I noticed behind me a cop was tailing me for about two minutes,” McGuire said. “The cop was riding my bumper to the point where I actually couldn't see the front of the car.”

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McGuire, who is Black, said the officer eventually turned on his lights and sirens. She said she pulled over about 90 seconds later when she could find a safe spot to do so on the two-lane Virginia highway.

McGuire said when the officer approached her car, he started yelling at her to place her hands on the dashboard. She said he then repeatedly asked her if she had a gun in her car.

McGuire said she did not.

After that, McGuire said the officer asked her if she knew what a passing lane was. McGuire said she was informed she was going 55 miles per hour in a 50 mile-per-hour zone,  in the left lane of the GW Parkway. 

She said the officer ultimately told her she was going too slow in a passing lane.

“I was kind of trying to make sense of what he told me,” McGuire said.

She said the officer never identified himself. McGuire said he also did not give her a ticket or ask for her license and registration.

She said she felt he was just trying to intimidate her.

“Right before he returned to his car, I was in tears,” she said. “And, he told me that he didn't want me to be afraid of cops.”

WUSA 9 first reached out to USPP about McGuire’s case on July 9, but did not immediately receive a response. The station followed up on McGuire’s case one week later.

USPP responded via email with a sentence-long statement.

“The allegation has been forwarded to the U.S. Park Police and is being thoroughly investigated by our Internal Affairs Unit,” Eduardo Delgado, a public information officer for the U.S. Park Police, said. 

USPP has been criticized for its lack of transparency in the past. One of the most notable examples dates back to 2017 following the fatal officer-involved shooting of a 25-year-old Virginia man, Bijan Ghaisar.

USPP pursued Ghaisar during a stop-and-go chase down the GW Parkway before fatally shooting him.

It took USPP more than a year to publicly name the officers involved in that case.

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The attorney who represented Ghaisar’s family is the same attorney who has been retained by McGuire: Roy Austin.

“The lack of transparency exhibited by the U.S. Park Police is reprehensible,” he said.

Austin said if McGuire had not gotten an attorney it was possible USPP would altogether overlook her case.

“Transparency is key,” he said. “The police don't police just anywhere, they police in a community. And, that community has a right to know what the police officers they are paying do. And, they have a right to know who they are. And, they have a right to know about their conduct.”

So far, Austin said his client has only received a form letter response from USPP regarding her claims.

He has written a letter to United States senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, and other members of Congress, demanding to know the name of the officer who pulled over McGuire and whether he has any other complaints filed against him.

“We want to know if this was actually a tactic that was taught,” he said. “We want to know about this officer’s record. We want to know how people file complaints with regard to the U.S. Park Police to know if other officers have similar complaints.”

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