Two federal police officers were legally justified in fatally shooting Miriam Carey in October after she rammed a White House barrier and led authorities on a high-speed pursuit to the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. attorney’s office said Thursday.
The officers from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police each fired nine rounds in the final confrontation Oct. 3, authorities said, hitting the 34-year-old woman from Connecticut five times. Her 1-year-old daughter was in the car but was not physically harmed.
Prosecutors noted that the entire incident took only seven minutes and included attempted breaches at the White House and Capitol complex and that police twice opened fire on the black Infiniti on crowded streets, including firing eight shots at Garfield Circle after police said Carey drove onto a sidewalk and forced officers to jump out of the way.
Prosecutors “concluded that the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers who were involved in the shooting used excessive force,” according to the statement from Ronald C. Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. The statement also said no federal or local charges were warranted and there were no civil rights violations.
An attorney for Carey’s family has filed papers indicating an intent to sue for $75 million, arguing that the shooting violated rules that generally forbid police from firing at moving vehicles. He contends that authorities overreacted to a driver relatives say accidentally drove into a security fence at the White House and then panicked when police drew their weapons.
A statement from the New York lawyer, Eric Sanders, called the prosecutor’s wording careful and legalistic, saying it didn’t say the shooting was justified but merely that it couldn’t be proved otherwise.
“The United States Attorney’s legal position has not changed the Carey family’s legal position,” the statement from Sanders said. “Again, after an exhaustive review of all publicly available data, the Carey Family has concluded the shooting of Miriam Iris Carey was “NOT JUSTIFIED.”
Authorities have not released a full report on the shooting, but Machen’s office issued a lengthy statement Thursday with new details of the incident that forced the Capitol and Supreme Court into lockdown and raised the specter of a terrorist attack on the nation’s capital. Prosecutors said they interviewed 60 witnesses and examined surveillance and traffic video, photographs, the autopsy report and ballistic reports.
The situation began at 2:13 p.m., when Carey drove into a restricted White House checkpoint at 15th and E streets NW and refused to stop, police said. She rammed a metal bicycle rack that an off-duty officer used to try to slow or stop her, knocking down the rack and the officer. She then sped along Pennsylvania Avenue at speeds estimated at 40 to 80 mph, weaving through traffic and driving through red lights.
Prosecutors said she drove the wrong way around Garfield Circle, refused demands to stop and nearly hit several officers, who opened fire. She then drove to the other side of the Capitol, to Maryland Avenue and Second Street NE, where police said she struck a Supreme Court police car, revved her engine and drove in reverse “directly at” officers who were running toward the car with their guns drawn. Two officers opened fire, and Carey crashed into a kiosk.
Carey was struck in her head, an arm and back. The officers who fired were placed on leave in October. Capitol police said Thursday that their officer who was involved in shooting remains on leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation. The Secret Service did not immediately say whether its officer is back on duty.