Lanier urges against drawing quick conclusions in police shooting at Capitol


Capitol Hill police officers search the site after a car chase and shooting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 3, 2013. Miriam Carey was shot to death after the chase that went from the White House to near the Capitol. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier urged Tuesday that people not rush to judgement after an autopsy showed that federal agents shot a woman in the back after authorities said she rammed a White House barrier with her car and led police on a chase to the U.S. Capitol.

The chief cautioned that the investigation is not over and is being reviewed by the U.S. attorney’s office. The woman who was shot, Miriam Carey, 34, of Stamford, Conn., was killed in the Oct. 3 pursuit and shooting.

A lawyer representing the Carey estate has filed papers in court indicating that a lawsuit is being considered. Their attorney, Eric Sanders, contends that the federal officers violated regulations and accepted standards by firing on a moving vehicle, an action that many police agencies restrict or forbid.

Sanders released a copy of Carey’s autopsy last week showing that she was shot five times as she drove her black Infiniti — one to the left side of her head, two to the upper left back, one to the upper right back and one to the left arm. Her 1-year-old daughter was also in the car but was not hurt.

The lawyer has said the autopsy results prove that the agents with the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Capitol Police fired unnecessarily, and with no pressing threat. But in an application for a search warrant on the Infiniti, authorities said Carey was speeding at police officers while in reverse.

Speaking on NewsChannel 8 on Tuesday, Lanier said that “some bad conclusions can easily be drawn from a police shooting case when limited information is released.” She also noted the unique circumstances of policing and protecting the nation’s capital in an era of terrorism, and that those fears cannot be discounted when officers must quickly assess threats.

“We’re protecting the White House, the president, Congress,” Lanier said on the Bruce DePuyt show. “Sometimes a weapon is not the big threat. A vehicle getting close to those places could be full of explosives. That’s the threat.”

The chief declined to specifically address the Carey case, but said, “Cars can move forward and be a threat and move backward and be a threat.”

Police fired on the vehicle twice — at a traffic circle near the Capitol and on the Capitol grounds near a guard shack. The chase ended when Carey put the Infiniti in reverse and rammed a police vehicle, prompting U.S. Capitol Police officers and Secret Service agents to shoot at the car, authorities said.

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