The U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. announced today it had found insufficient evidence to charge officers who shot and killed Miriam Carey last October. Carey, a 34-year-old mother from Connecticut, had driven her car into a restricted White House checkpoint on Oct. 3. In the chaotic following minutes, Carey knocked down a Secret Service officer with her car, led police on a chase, injured another officer, and was shot near the Capitol Building, at 2nd Street and Maryland Avenue NE. Carey was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital. Her young child was found, unhurt, in her car.
Questions quickly arose after her death about the actions of the officers on the scene, which included members of the Capitol Police and the Secret Service. Media reports initially stated that Carey had been armed, when in fact she was not. Others asked why the police chose to fire their weapons at Carey’s car instead of trying to subdue her in some other fashion. Law and police science professor James Mulvaney penned a Washington Post editorial arguing that if the officers had had better training, “they might have realized that she wasn’t intentionally defying their orders as much as she was panicked, confused and in the midst of an emotional breakdown. They might have figured out a way to calm her down without killing her.”
In February, Carey’s sister, Valarie Carey, filed a wrongful death suit against the Capitol Police and Secret Service for $75 million, alleging that the officers “failed to establish firearms control; thereby collectively causing the avoidable death of Miriam,” according to her attorney. The suit also calls for the termination of the officers involved, along with their supervisors and managers.
But the U.S. Attorney’s Office concluded that interviews with more than 60 witnesses and a review of all crime-scene evidence did not provide sufficient proof that the officers involved used excessive force or had criminal intent on Oct. 3. Its report detailed the many times Carey was instructed to stop her car and failed to do so. It also confirmed that she was unarmed and shot five times.
Per an email from the U.S. Attorney’s Office: “Proving ‘willfulness’ is a heavy burden, and means that it must be proven that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. Accident, mistake, fear, negligence and bad judgment do not establish such a criminal violation.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery