Officers who shot and killed Miriam Carey near U.S. Capitol in October found not at fault
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced Thursday that there is "insufficient evidence" to pursue federal criminal civil rights or local charges against officers from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police who were involved in the fatal shooting of Miriam Carey on Oct. 3, 2013 near the U.S. Capitol.
Carey's family condemned the results which state her death was justified, and said it will not stop them from pursuing further investigation and action.
Carey, 34, of Stamford, Conn., caused disruptions in front of both the White House and Capitol on Oct. 3, 2013, ramming and attempting to drive through law enforcement vehicles and traffic barriers at restricted points, and leading authorities on a brief car chase at speeds of between 40-80 miles per hour in significant traffic downtown, causing one officer to total his cruiser and be transported to the hospital with serious injuries.
After the incident, authorities discovered that a young child was in the vehicle during the entire ordeal, and in imminent danger.
Carey was eventually shot to death by U.S. Secret Service agents. Members of her family filed suit against authorities following her death, seeking $75 million for her estate, part of which would benefit her child, identified only as "EF," who was the minor in the vehicle with her during the incident.
According to a release by the U.S. Attorney's Office Thursday, the investigation into the incident and Carey's death has concluded, and Carey's family has been notified of the results.
The release indicated more than 60 witnesses of the incident were interviewed, and "careful review of all crime scene evidence, ballistics reports, scene and traffic video footage, photographs, the autopsy report, scene and other evidence" was conducted during their nine-month investigation.
"After a thorough review of all the evidence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office concluded that the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers who were involved in the shooting used excessive force or possessed the requisite criminal intent at the time of the events," the statement read.
The incident on Oct. 3 lasted all of seven minutes, from 2:13 to 2:20 p.m., but caused considerable concern, even locking down the Capitol building, the Supreme Court and other Capitol-area buildings for a period of time that day.
During that period, Carey engaged with officers at three locations – one at the White House and two near the Capitol.
At 2:13 p.m., Carey drove into "a well-marked, restricted White House checkpoint at 15th and E Streets NW, without authorization and without stopping," officials said.
After Carey refused to stop at the direction of two uniformed Secret Service officers, an off-duty officer placed a metal bike rack in her path to block her exit. Carey then struck the bike rack and the off-duty Secret Service officer who was standing behind it, knocking both the bike rack and the officer onto the ground.
Carey then drove down Pennsylvania Avenue at speeds estimated at 40-80 mph, while weaving through traffic and ignoring red lights.
Four minutes after leaving the White House checkpoint, Carey arrived at Garfield Circle, one of two traffic circles in front of the U.S. Capitol.
"She drove into the circle going against the flow of traffic, almost hitting another vehicle head-on," officials recounted. "Carey then turned her vehicle towards the permanently-affixed black barriers that block vehicular traffic on the pedestrian walkway that leads to the steps of the U.S. Capitol."
The pursuing law enforcement officers blocked Carey’s exit from the left, right and rear of her vehicle, attempted to open her locked doors, and issued multiple commands for her to exit the vehicle.
"Carey then put her vehicle in reverse and rammed the marked cruiser that was positioned behind her vehicle," officials said.
After ramming the cruiser, Carey drove forward onto the sidewalk, forcing officers to run out of her path to avoid being struck by her vehicle.
"It was at this point, as Ms. Carey drove on the sidewalk between the wall that borders the U.S. Capitol lawn and the tree boxes on the sidewalk, that two U.S. Secret Service police officers and a U.S. Capitol Police officer fired eight rounds at Ms. Carey," officials said. "Investigators do not believe that Ms. Carey was hit by any of these rounds."
Carey then reportedly drove back around Garfield Circle, against the flow of traffic, and headed towards Constitution Avenue.
The U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Supreme Court, and other buildings within the Capitol square were put on lockdown in response to the shots fired report.
"With continued reckless and evasive driving, Ms. Carey traveled along the north side of the Capitol and headed towards the Senate and House office buildings. A U.S. Capitol Police officer who was responding to the scene in his cruiser slammed into one of the barriers that had just been raised in response to the lockdown order, causing what sounded like an explosion that was later reported by witnesses. The cruiser was totaled and the officer had to be airlifted to the hospital for treatment of his injuries," officials said.
Approximately one minute after the shooting at Garfield Circle, Carey arrived at the manned U.S. Capitol Police Truck Interdiction Point at 2nd Street and Maryland Avenue NE. With raised barriers blocking her path, she reportedly made a sharp left, drove up a curb, over the center median, and struck an unmarked Supreme Court police officer’s vehicle that had stopped in front of the Hart office building.
"After ignoring multiple commands given by officers who were running towards her vehicle with guns drawn, Ms. Carey revved her engine and then reversed her vehicle and drove directly at a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was approaching Ms. Carey’s vehicle from behind. As the U.S. Capitol Police officer ran towards the median to avoid being struck by Ms. Carey’s vehicle, he and another officer from the U.S. Secret Service (who also had fired shots at the Garfield Circle location) started firing."
The two officers fired nine rounds each, officials indicated.
"Twenty seconds after Ms. Carey had arrived at the 2nd and Maryland location, her vehicle crashed into the kiosk and came to rest. Ms. Carey was unconscious at this time, and did not get out of the vehicle. No additional rounds were fired by officers after the crash," officials continued.
After the shooting and after Carey’s vehicle crashed into the kiosk and came to rest, the officers on the scene discovered that there was a young child in the vehicle. They carried the child from the car. The child, who was not seriously injured, was taken to a hospital.
Medical personnel arrived on the scene and attempted to revive Carey. She was transported to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Officials report Carey sustained five gunshot wounds to her neck and torso area, one of which was fatal. She was not under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol, and no weapon was recovered from inside her vehicle.
Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt not only that an officer’s use of force was excessive, but also that the officer "willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right."
"Proving 'willfulness' is a heavy burden, and means that it must be proven that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids," officials said in Thursday's statement. "Accident, mistake, fear, negligence and bad judgment do not establish such a criminal violation."
"After a careful, thorough and independent review of the evidence, 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, or that they acted with the requisite criminal intent," officials continued. "Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed without prosecution."
The Justice Department added that it remains "committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers, and will continue to devote the resources necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated."
Eric Sanders, who represents Carey's family, released a statement shortly after the U.S. Attorney's findings were released Thursday.
“Now that the criminal inquiry has concluded, the Carey Family will continue with its fight for Miriam’s and her minor child EF’s rights. The United States Attorney’s legal position has not changed the Carey Family’s legal position," the statement read.
"Again, after an exhaustive review of all publicly available data, the Carey Family has concluded the shooting of Miriam Iris Carey was not justified," Sanders continued. "The closing of the criminal inquiry will now open the opportunity to obtain further data from various government agencies to support the Carey Family’s legal position."