More than three months after an unarmed woman was killed in a hail of police gunfire on Capitol Hill, her family's lawyer is calling for authorities to release the results of their investigation, and for Congress to use its own powers to look into the case. And some lawmakers agree.
"While we understand police shootings must be carefully investigated because of their social and political ramifications, by now there should have been a preliminary analysis released in the public venue," Eric Sanders, a New York-based civil-rights lawyer, wrote on his firm's website.
Authorities have been silent regarding any findings so far of their review of the Oct. 3 incident, in which Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Connecticut, was killed after leading police in a car chase from the White House with her 14-month-old baby on board.
"I think three months is plenty," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, adding that he agrees that it may be time for Congress to take its own look.
"It does concern me that 90 days—3 months after the event—we've received no report," said Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat. "We would like to understand what happened that day."
Johnson added: "I am concerned about a moving vehicle being fired at—at a time when it was known a baby was in the car. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered."
Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat, said, "For something that is that important, it would seem to me that the authorities would act expeditiously. I would hope they would make as much information available as they can immediately."
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, William Miller, said the investigation is continuing, though he could not say when findings may be released. "These investigations do take time and are looked at very thoroughly and carefully," Miller said.
Meanwhile, an unspecified number of Capitol Police officers remain on administrative leave stemming from the incident, which officials say is the usual procedure. Officials at the U.S. Capitol Police, Secret Service, and in both the Senate and House either declined to comment on Wednesday or said they had no information to provide.
But Sanders has started to agitate for findings to be released, saying in an interview Wednesday that the only official document he has obtained so far is a sworn affidavit that was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington seeking a search warrant for Carey's "person, place and things."
Sanders also has posted a memo on his firm's website questioning police conduct and arguing that the situation was mishandled.
For example, the affidavit for the search warrant alleges that Carey "refused to stop" at a vehicle checkpoint near the White House and "made a U-turn" and allegedly began to "flee," he writes. But, Sanders argues, "Turning around and leaving is not violative of any laws. The question is: Why did police pursue Miriam?"
The affidavit also mentions that a Secret Service officer initially attempted to block her car with a bicycle rack, but the car pushed over the rack, knocking the officer to the ground. It was from that point, after the incident at the barrier at 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue, that the chase began; shots were fired as the car continued moving, and Carey was shot to death after coming to a halt near the Capitol. The child is now with her father, said Sanders.
Sanders, a former New York City police officer, says the affidavit shows that "these police officers completely mishandled this simple 'street encounter.'" He also dismisses the notion that Carey's car itself represented, legally, a "deadly weapon."
"This is serious, because never has there been an unarmed woman killed [near] the nation's Capitol, right in front of the international community," Sanders said in an interview. He argues further in his posting that if people don't see a problem with what he calls the "silence" surrounding this incident, "We as a country are in very serious trouble."
This article appears in the January 9, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.