Family Presses Ahead With Lawsuit in Fatal Capitol Hill Shooting

Secret Service Uniformed Division members are seen at Pennsylvania Ave and 17th Street on October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC, a day after a woman led authorities on a car chase from the White House to the US Capitol. Miriam Carey, of Stamford, Connecticut was finally shot dead by police in front of the Hart Senate Office Building. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN
National Journal
Billy House
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Billy House
July 10, 2014, 11:55 a.m.

The law­yer for the fam­ily of a Con­necti­c­ut wo­man fatally shot by fed­er­al of­ficers last Oc­to­ber after a car chase from the White House to Cap­it­ol Hill said he was not sur­prised by the Justice De­part­ment’s de­cision to not pro­sec­ute the of­ficers in­volved.

But at­tor­ney Eric Sanders of New York said Miri­am Carey’s fam­ily will press ahead with its $75 mil­lion wrong­ful-death law­suit against the Secret Ser­vice and U.S. Cap­it­ol Po­lice.

In fact, Sanders said the clos­ing of the crim­in­al in­quiry may open up more op­por­tun­ity to ob­tain fur­ther in­form­a­tion from gov­ern­ment agen­cies to sup­port the law­suit. The 34-year-old dent­al hy­gien­ist from Stam­ford died after be­ing shot five times by of­ficers while in her car. Carey’s 14-month-old daugh­ter was in the back seat dur­ing the shoot­ing, but the child was not in­jured.

Na­tion­al Journ­al first re­por­ted Wed­nes­day that Justice De­part­ment of­fi­cials had de­cided they would not pur­sue fed­er­al crim­in­al civil-rights or loc­al charges against the two Secret Ser­vice of­ficers and two Cap­it­ol Po­lice of­ficers in­volved in Carey’s death. And de­part­ment of­fi­cials pub­licly re­leased a state­ment Thursday that “fed­er­al pro­sec­utors have found in­suf­fi­cient evid­ence to prove bey­ond a reas­on­able doubt that these of­ficers used ex­cess­ive force un­der the cir­cum­stances known to them at the time.”

Sanders said he had been con­tac­ted earli­er Thursday by Justice De­part­ment of­fi­cials who handled the in­vest­ig­a­tion about the de­cision not to pro­sec­ute, pri­or to the pub­lic an­nounce­ment. He said he’d been ex­pect­ing such an out­come, but did not agree with it, and that “we’ll go for­ward” with the civil case.

“Today, after nine months of ‘ut­ter’ si­lence by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials we were not sur­pris­ingly told by the United States At­tor­ney’s Of­fice for the Dis­trict of Columbia they are ‘de­clin­ing pro­sec­u­tion’ be­cause after an ex­haust­ive re­view of the avail­able evid­ence they will not be able to meet the ‘will­ful­ness’ stand­ard as re­quired by vari­ous crim­in­al stat­utes,” Sanders said.

“There is no find­ing that the po­lice use of force against Miri­am Iris Carey was ‘jus­ti­fied,’ ” he said.

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