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
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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