Woman Killed in Capitol Hill Chase Was Shot Five Times

Autopsy report shows that Miriam Carey was shot from behind, including once in the head.

A view of the scene with a US Capitol Police car (top) and a black Infinity after a shooting on Capitol Hill October 3, 2013 in Washington, DC. Shots were reported as fired near 2nd Street NW and Constitution Avenue on Capitol Hill.
National Journal
Billy House
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Billy House
April 7, 2014, 5:29 p.m.

Six months after a Con­necti­c­ut wo­man was killed in a hail of po­lice gun­fire on Cap­it­ol Hill, the fed­er­al in­vest­ig­a­tion re­mains un­der wraps, even as new in­form­a­tion has sur­faced show­ing she was shot mul­tiple times from be­hind, in­clud­ing once in the head.

Three of the five shots that hit Miri­am Carey, 34, entered through her back, and an­oth­er struck her up­per left arm, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial re­port of her autopsy, ob­tained by a law­yer for her fam­ily. An ac­com­pa­ny­ing tox­ic­o­logy re­port shows that Carey, a dent­al as­sist­ant, had no drugs or al­co­hol in her sys­tem when she was killed.

How many of the shots were fired as Carey was still lead­ing po­lice in a car chase from the White House on Oct. 3 — with her 14-month-old girl in the rear seat — was not de­tailed. The re­port also does not de­scribe wheth­er any shots were fired after her car came to a stop on Cap­it­ol Hill, nor does it list the se­quence of her wounds.

“It’s been six months now and there’s still noth­ing from [the Justice De­part­ment],” said Eric Sanders, a law­yer for Carey’s fam­ily in New York. “But now we have something.”

Sanders con­tends that law en­force­ment “blew it,” not­ing that the doc­u­ments show Carey was not un­der the in­flu­ence of any sub­stances and ar­guing that she was mov­ing away from the of­ficers at the time she was fatally shot. Law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials have con­sist­ently de­clined to com­ment on the case, cit­ing the on­go­ing in­vest­ig­a­tion and pending lit­ig­a­tion.

Sanders, a former po­lice of­ficer, has already filed a pre­lim­in­ary wrong­ful-death claim against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, the Secret Ser­vice, and the U.S. Cap­it­ol Po­lice. Late last week, he pos­ted the autopsy and tox­ic­o­logy doc­u­ments for pub­lic view­ing.

Though the case now moves past its six-month an­niversary, no of­fi­cial re­port fully ex­plain­ing the events of that day has been re­leased from the Justice De­part­ment or oth­er law-en­force­ment agen­cies.

“The in­vest­ig­a­tion is con­tinu­ing. And I really can’t provide an es­tim­ate as to when it is to be con­cluded,” said Wil­li­am Miller, a spokes­man for the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, on Monday. He also would not com­ment on wheth­er six months is an un­usu­ally long time for an in­vest­ig­a­tion of this nature.

Lt. Kim­berly Schneider, a spokes­wo­man for the U.S. Cap­it­ol Po­lice, said, “The USCP does not com­ment on pending lit­ig­a­tion and de­clines to com­ment while the in­vest­ig­a­tion is on­go­ing. The USCP of­ficers in­volved are on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave.”

Oth­er law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials did not re­turn calls on Monday. But two House Demo­crats, who have ques­tioned why it is tak­ing so much time for de­tails of the fed­er­al in­vest­ig­a­tion to be an­nounced, said the autopsy in­form­a­tion makes them more con­vinced that the find­ings should be re­leased pub­licly.

Rep. Al­cee Hast­ings of Flor­ida, a former fed­er­al judge, says he con­tin­ues to won­der why the car’s tires were not fired upon to stop the vehicle’s pro­gress. He said that in­vest­ig­at­ors should re­lease what they know, but that “I would be­lieve that the hes­it­ancy of the Justice De­part­ment is pre­dic­ated on the fact they know a civil rights law­suit is com­ing.”

Rep. Raul Gri­jalva of Ari­zona, co­chair of the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gress­ive Caucus, ad­ded that re­lease of the fed­er­al find­ings “would give us a full pic­ture. Sup­pos­i­tions and jump­ing to con­clu­sions — which nobody wants any­body to do — would be elim­in­ated, and with the whole pic­ture we could draw a real opin­ion of what happened.”

In an in­ter­view Monday, Sanders por­trayed the autopsy find­ings as bol­ster­ing his the­ory that Carey’s shoot­ing was not jus­ti­fied. He said Cap­it­ol Po­lice and oth­er law-en­force­ment of­ficers “pan­icked” and “com­pletely mis­handled” a simple street en­counter that began when Carey re­fused to stop her black In­fin­iti at a vehicle check­point near the White House and made a U-turn.

Sanders said fed­er­al agents and of­ficers from mul­tiple jur­is­dic­tions began to pur­sue her car ag­gress­ively, and that he is con­tinu­ing to press for ac­cess to po­lice ra­dio trans­mis­sions dur­ing the in­cid­ent.

Sanders has yet to ex­plain why Carey was in Wash­ing­ton with her child. But he has pre­vi­ously poin­ted to doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing an ini­tial po­lice af­fi­davit which said that after Carey made her turn, a Secret Ser­vice of­ficer at­temp­ted to block her car with a bi­cycle rack.

Her car pushed over the rack, knock­ing the of­ficer to the ground. It was from that point, after the in­cid­ent at that bar­ri­er at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Av­en­ue, that the chase began, and shots were fired as the car con­tin­ued mov­ing. Carey ul­ti­mately was fatally wounded either right be­fore or right after her car came to a halt near the Cap­it­ol after circ­ling the Gar­field Monu­ment traffic circle. The child, who is now liv­ing with her fath­er, was not wounded, des­pite be­ing in the car’s back­seat dur­ing at least some of the gun­fire.

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