By Cody Mello-Klein | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kashif Bashir is behind bars again.
Arrested for shooting Alexandria Police Officer Peter LaBoy in 2013, Bashir was found not guilty by reason of insanity by Alexandria Circuit Court Judge James C. Clark in 2014. After receiving treatment for his paranoid schizophrenia in a mental institution for five years, Bashir was determined by Clark to be competent last June and was released. Bashir was rearrested last week and charged with arson and illegal possession of firearms.
Bashir was arrested as a suspect in two separate fires on Feb. 6, one on Winged Elm Circle in Manassas and another in Bristow the same day, according to a Patch report. He was charged by fire marshals with arson, two counts of attempted arson and two misdemeanor counts of possession of a firearm by a person acquitted by reason of insanity. Bashir had been prohibited from carrying a firearm when he was conditionally released after being found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Bashir is in custody and is being held without bond until his preliminary court hearing on March 8. Bashir’s arrest comes less than a year after Clark allowed Bashir to be released from the mental hospital where he had been residing for five years.
“I was obviously concerned and thankful that we avoided any actual harm to any human beings, but very concerned about the process that allowed him to be in a position where he could have potentially hurt somebody,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said.
News of Bashir’s recent arrest did not entirely surprise LaBoy.
“The first thing that came to my mind was, ‘I knew it was gonna happen,’” LaBoy said.
The shooting occurred on Feb. 27, 2013 when LaBoy confronted Bashir, then a cabdriver, for stalking a woman in Old Town with the intention of raping her, according to Porter.
LaBoy, responding to a call, stopped Bashir at the intersection of Wilkes and South St. Asaph streets next to Lyles-Crouch Elementary School. Bashir opened fire on LaBoy, shooting the police officer in the head. LaBoy did not fire back. Bashir then fled the scene and led police officers from several jurisdictions on a high-speed chase for several miles before he was caught.
Bashir was charged with capital attempted murder, malicious wounding and two counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
The case became embroiled in controversy when, in 2014, Clark found Bashir not guilty by reason of insanity. The decision, according to Porter, was made largely due to the binary that exists within Virginia state law that only allows for a guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity ruling in cases dealing with mental illness.
“I don’t think that adequately reflects the true nature of mental illness in the criminal justice system,” Porter said. “It’s more of a continuum. … I just don’t think the current paradigm adequately addresses the huge difference in every case that presents itself when mental health intersects with the criminal justice system.”
According to Porter, 20 states have already approved legislation that would allow for a guilty but mentally ill verdict in cases related to mental illness.
During the case, Porter argued that although Bashir is mentally ill, his actions – buying a gun and stalking a woman with the intent of raping her – were premeditated and that he was aware of what he was doing.
After Bashir was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he resided in a mental hospital until, in June 2018, Clark deemed him fit to be conditionally released.That decision brought backlash from LaBoy’s family and the community at large.
While Bashir had been confined to the mental hospital, LaBoy had lost his job and marriage and, despite regular hospital visits, still suffered seizures due to the gunshot.
“I’m very lucky that I’m still here, but I’m suffering more than he is,” LaBoy said when Bashir was released last June. “I’m still going to the hospital two times a week. It’s not right that they gave him medication and said he’s good now and he’s out there.”
The conditions of Bashir’s release allowed him to live in an apartment, but he was not permitted to go outside a 50-mile radius of the apartment, return to Alexandria or contact any of the victims. He was prohibited from owning a car or taking drugs outside of those he was prescribed. He was also placed under the supervision of a designated Program of Assertive Community Treatment team, which was to provide him with 35 to 40 hours of structured activity every week and provide monthly reports to the court.
“The way I look at it is you’re having a dog with a 10-meter leash,” LaBoy said after hearing the conditions
of Bashir’s release last year. “The judge kind of pulled everything back, and he told him, he said, ‘Mr. Bashir, you’re gonna be out there now, but just remember you’re going to have a lot of eyes looking at you.’”
While Bashir’s recent arrest and charges in Prince William County will have no effect on the verdict of the 2013 case – they are two separate cases – LaBoy feels better that Bashir, at least for the moment, is off the streets.
“Everybody says, ‘How do you feel?’ These days I feel good because I know that he’s not going to be out there to hurt me or to hurt family or to hurt all the officers or anybody else,” LaBoy said.
Porter said that Bashir’s recent actions could impact his conditional release.
“It very well could result in his conditional release to the community being revoked and him being back in a hospital,” Porter said.
Porter’s office filed a motion on Monday to revoke Bashir’s conditional release. An Alexandria judge would then have to issue a warrant for Bashir’s arrest, which would serve as a detainer until Bashir’s case in Prince William is adjudicated. Once in Alexandria, Bashir would be evaluated by another mental health professional who would render an opinion on whether or not he is fit to continue to be released in the community.
Regardless of Bashir’s future, Porter is intent on making sure nothing like this happens again.
“What will have to happen if there is going to be any change to address this situation is that it’s going to have to be legislation,” Porter said. “I hope to try to address in the future and maybe make some progress.”