No Criminal Charges in Death of Mom Shot by Capitol Cops

Justice Department to announce “declination to prosecute.”

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
July 9, 2014, 11:54 a.m.

The Justice De­part­ment will not press crim­in­al charges against the U.S. Secret Ser­vice and Cap­it­ol Po­lice of­ficers in­volved in the Oct. 3 shoot­ing death of a Con­necti­c­ut wo­man after a car chase from the White House to Cap­it­ol Hill.

An of­fi­cial “de­clin­a­tion to pro­sec­ute” is be­ing fi­nal­ized — and could be an­nounced as early as this week — after a more than nine-month-long in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the po­lice pur­suit and death of Miri­am Carey, 34, of Stam­ford, Conn., say mul­tiple sources.

Since the shoot­ing, the two uni­formed Secret Ser­vice of­ficers in­volved have re­mained on duty, while the two Cap­it­ol Po­lice of­ficers have been on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave, pending the out­come of the fed­er­al re­view.

Justice De­part­ment of­fi­cials, say sources, want to dis­cuss their de­cision with the Carey fam­ily be­fore mak­ing an an­nounce­ment. Eric Sanders, a New York-based law­yer rep­res­ent­ing the Carey fam­ily and es­tate, con­firmed Wed­nes­day even­ing that de­part­ment of­fi­cials have set up a con­fer­ence call for Thursday with him­self and Carey’s sis­ter, Valer­ie Carey, to dis­cuss the case.

Sanders said he’s not sur­prised to hear that the of­ficers are be­ing cleared, but that he strongly dis­agrees with that de­cision. “I’ll listen to them re­spect­fully,” he said.

An autopsy showed that Carey was ul­ti­mately hit by five shots while in her car, from at least two dif­fer­ent loc­a­tions on Cap­it­ol Hill: one shot to the back of her head, three in her back, and one to her left arm.

All the while, her then-14-month-old daugh­ter was in the rear seat. The child was not wounded.

The de­part­ment’s de­cision not to crim­in­ally pro­sec­ute the four of­ficers will be an­nounced along with an ex­tens­ive re­port that ex­plains why no such ac­tion is be­ing taken.

Much of the soon-to-be-re­leased Justice De­part­ment re­port will dis­cuss the defin­i­tions of the leg­al “use of force” and why the cir­cum­stances of this in­cid­ent made this — in law-en­force­ment par­lances — a “good shoot” un­der those para­met­ers.

It is ex­pec­ted to provide a de­tailed, mo­ment-by-mo­ment ex­plan­a­tion of the in­cid­ent.

Wheth­er the de­clin­a­tion to pro­sec­ute is also an in­dic­a­tion that po­ten­tial civil rights ac­tion by the de­part­ment is also ruled out could not be de­term­ined. The type of in­vest­ig­a­tion that has been done so far gen­er­ally looks in­to the pos­sib­il­ity of crim­in­al charges, ac­cord­ing to a de­part­ment source.

Sanders, the Carey fam­ily law­yer, who is a former po­lice of­ficer, has already filed a pre­lim­in­ary wrong­ful-death claim against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, the Secret Ser­vice, and the Cap­it­ol Po­lice.

He says the ex­plan­a­tion that this was a “split-second de­cision” by the of­ficers does not fit what really happened, and there is no evid­ence the of­ficers were de­fend­ing them­selves.

Rather, Sanders con­tends the 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.

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 then 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 autopsy res­ults showed that 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.

It is not known if the Justice De­part­ment re­port will go in­to the de­tails of her jour­ney to the cap­it­al or the reas­ons for it.

Pending the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment, there was no com­ment from U.S. Cap­it­ol Po­lice. A spokes­man for the Secret Ser­vice did not im­me­di­ately com­ment.

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