October 4, 2013

Regarding the Oct. 4 front-page article “Chaotic chase ends on Hill”:

Let’s say that the driver who struck a security barrier at the White House and then sped away to the Capitol was the world’s worst terrorist. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to keep her alive for interrogation? Numerous shots were firedat what turned out to be an unarmed woman in one midsize car. This wasn’t a tractor-trailer filled with what could have been harmful material. Couldn’t an officer have shot out one or two tires?  

What if, in the end, the investigation reveals that this was nothing more than simply a frightened, lost-in-D.C. woman who panicked at the wrong time? Why do we always have to shoot to kill?

Mary Ann Treger-Cassidy, Annapolis

Thank you for the comprehensive coverage of the Oct. 3 incident at the U.S. Capitol. As a (furloughed) employee there, this incident hit close to home. One point needs to be clarified, however.

The Post reported that the driver of the vehicle involved was “not armed.” While she did not have a gun, she did have a weapon. Her car was the weapon. I am sure that police officers consider an out-of-control driver and automobile as dangerous a weapon as any gun. They were entirely right to shoot her. Besides, they didn’t know whether she did have a gun.

The U.S. Capitol Police and other officers involved deserve better than to be characterized by implication as “bad cops” who would shoot an unarmed person.

R.J. Nicholson, Gaithersburg

With all due respect for the work of the Capitol Police and D.C. police, I am not yet convinced that it was either necessary or right to engage in a one-way firefight with an unarmed woman seated in her car, especially with a child present.

I understand that she needed to be dealt with immediately and with the presumption that she presented a serious and unknowable threat, but I think we should expect better from police who, upon stopping the car, could have found a better, nonlethal way to neutralize the threat.

I worry that there is a growing, unchecked culture in some urban police departments toward use of lethal force. Heavily armed, black-clad SWAT teams used to be rare — they now are commonplace. I wonder if the lethal response at the Capitol wasn’t a tragedy waiting to happen and at least partially the result of some of our police officers moving into quasi-military roles.

Robert E. Patterson, West Friendship

It is unacceptable that the woman who tried to breach the White House’s security and almost ran over a Secret Service officer with her car was allowed to escape. As a result, she led police on a dangerous chase before she was shot and killed.

White House security was clearly unready for this intruder. If something like this were to occur again, the person has to be stopped, in any way necessary, before he or she reenters the streets.

Vic Simon, Takoma Park