Police Union Defends Officers in Lethal Hill Shooting

Labor leader says the death of Miriam Carey resulted from a “split-second decision” by Capitol Police and Secret Service agents.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 03: A police car that struck a barricade blocks Constitution Avenue as U.S. Capitol Police investigate a shooting outside of the U.S. Capitol on October 3, 2013 in Washington, DC. Police called the shooting an isolated incident, unassociated with any act of terrorism. (Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
National Journal
Billy House
May 1, 2014, 5:05 p.m.

For the first time since fed­er­al law­men killed a wo­man sev­en months ago on Cap­it­ol Hill by shoot­ing her after a car chase, a po­lice uni­on of­fi­cial is de­fend­ing the of­ficers for their “split-second de­cision.”

U.S. Cap­it­ol Po­lice Labor Com­mit­tee Chair­man James Kon­czos, in a state­ment provided this week to Na­tion­al Journ­al, cau­tioned that he could not com­ment in depth be­cause of the on­go­ing Justice De­part­ment in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the Oct. 3 pur­suit and shoot­ing death of Miri­am Carey, 34, of Stam­ford, Conn.

But after months of si­lence from the uni­on, Kon­czos said, “We do sup­port our of­ficers. Based on the cir­cum­stances, they had to make a split-second de­cision on the facts they had at that time.”

Kon­czos ad­ded: “Their in­volve­ment was hap­pen­ing in ‘real time,’ so they were not af­forded the lux­ury [of time] of those second-guess­ing their ac­tions. It is easy to throw hy­po­thet­ic­al op­tions around after the fact.”

Eric Sanders, a New York-based law­yer rep­res­ent­ing the Carey fam­ily and es­tate, said Thursday he was un­im­pressed. A former po­lice of­ficer, Sanders has filed a pre­lim­in­ary wrong­ful-death claim against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, the Secret Ser­vice, and the Cap­it­ol Po­lice.

Sanders said the char­ac­ter­iz­a­tion of the of­ficers who fired their weapons that day as mak­ing a “split-second” de­cision is “clearly de­signed” to cloak the case in court rul­ings that give po­lice more lee­way in some in­stances — par­tic­u­larly in in­stances where they are de­fend­ing them­selves. But in this case, he as­serts, the ar­gu­ment doesn’t fit.

An autopsy re­port shows Carey was ul­ti­mately hit by five shots: one to the back of her head, three in her back, and one to her left arm. Sanders says he be­lieves as many as sev­en shots were fired at Carey from at least two dif­fer­ent loc­a­tions on Cap­it­ol Hill — all while Carey was still in the car and her 14-month-old daugh­ter was sit­ting in the rear seat. The child was not wounded.

Sanders con­tends the shoot­ing was not jus­ti­fied and that the fed­er­al of­ficers “pan­icked” and vi­ol­ated reg­u­la­tions and stand­ards in fir­ing on a mov­ing vehicle after a street en­counter that began when Carey re­fused to stop her black In­fin­iti at a check­point near the White House and made a U-turn. “The prob­lem is, they had time to as­sess this situ­ation. It’s one thing to say someone sud­denly came up to you, en­gaged you, and it was a ‘bang-bang’ situ­ation,” said Sanders. “This is a car that had been driv­ing from the White House, and a wo­man driv­ing away.”

Po­lice doc­u­ments filed in fed­er­al court say the chase star­ted near the White House after Carey drove over a bi­cycle rack placed in front of her vehicle by a Secret Ser­vice of­ficer, knock­ing the of­ficer to the ground. She sped to­ward Cap­it­ol Hill and jumped a curb at the Gar­field traffic circle, on Mary­land Av­en­ue near the Cap­it­ol re­flect­ing pool. Sources have said the of­ficers thought the driver might try to drive up to the steps of the Cap­it­ol, so they sur­roun­ded the vehicle. Carey re­spon­ded by put­ting her car in re­verse and strik­ing a po­lice vehicle. At that point, of­ficers from the Secret Ser­vice and Cap­it­ol Po­lice “dis­charged their ser­vice weapons at the vehicle,” ac­cord­ing to a po­lice af­fi­davit.

Carey then drove to­ward the Sen­ate of­fice build­ings at 2nd Street and Con­sti­tu­tion Av­en­ue, jumped a me­di­an, and went in­to re­verse down Mary­land Av­en­ue, again re­fus­ing to stop her car. At this point, ac­cord­ing to the po­lice af­fi­davit, of­ficers “fired sev­er­al rounds in­to the sus­pect vehicle, strik­ing de­cedent.”

The Justice De­part­ment is con­tinu­ing to in­vest­ig­ate the in­cid­ent. A source with ties to the case said the de­part­ment’s find­ings will be re­leased with­in the next few weeks. A spokes­man for the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, Wil­li­am Miller, would not con­firm that.

“The in­vest­ig­a­tion is con­tinu­ing and the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice has no fur­ther com­ment at this time,” said Miller on Thursday.

The two Secret Ser­vice agents in­volved in the shoot­ing re­main on duty, and the agency has de­clined pub­lic com­ment.

Mean­while, Cap­it­ol Po­lice spokes­wo­man Lt. Kim­berly Schneider re­it­er­ated Thursday that her agency “does not com­ment on pending lit­ig­a­tion and does not com­ment on pending in­vest­ig­a­tions.”

Ex­actly how many Cap­it­ol Po­lice of­ficers dis­charged their weapons has not been pub­licly re­leased, but she said those in­volved con­tin­ue to be on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave.

The autopsy res­ults show Carey, a dent­al as­sist­ant, had no drugs or al­co­hol in her sys­tem when she was killed. But a leg­al source sup­port­ive of the au­thor­it­ies in­volved in the in­cid­ent and who has know­ledge of the case says an un­answered ques­tion is why she was in Wash­ing­ton that day.

“Only be­cause of her con­duct did she find her­self in this situ­ation,” he said of Carey.

“I’m not a hol­ster-sniffer; I don’t give law en­force­ment ex­tra le­ni­ency,” he ad­ded. “But this was a good shoot. “¦ These cops are her­oes.”

What We're Following See More »
LEGACY PLAY
Sanders and Clinton Spar Over … President Obama
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”

THE 1%
Sanders’s Appeals to Minorities Still Filtered Through Wall Street Talk
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”

DIRECT APPEAL TO MINORITIES, WOMEN
Clinton Already Pivoting Her Messaging
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.

THE QUESTION
How Many Jobs Would Be Lost Under Bernie Sanders’s Single-Payer System?
13 hours ago
THE ANSWER

More than 11 million, according to Manhattan Institute fellow Yevgeniy Feyman, writing in RealClearPolicy.

Source:
WEEKEND DATA DUMP
State to Release 550 More Clinton Emails on Saturday
13 hours ago
THE LATEST

Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.

Source:
×