Miriam Carey’s sister, Valarie Carey, a former NYPD Sergeant spoke out about her sister’s shooting death stating there is no justification for the police killing of her sister. She stated that, “Deadly physical force was not the ultimate recourse and it didn’t have to be.” A closer examination reveals that more scrutiny is warranted into the shooting death of Miriam Carey.
Carey, a 34 year old mother of 1 year old Erica Carey and dental hygienist was killed on October 3, when police fired 21 shots while chasing her through Washington, DC city streets en route from the White House to the U.S. Capitol. Carey who is described as suffering from postpartum depression drove from Stamford, Connecticut, where she lived, to the White House. Unable to get through the White House barricade, she headed towards the U.S. Capitol. She proceeded with police in full chase towards the U.S. Capitol and ended at the Hart Senate Building, where she was killed by Secret Service police. Her baby girl and nearby innocent bystanders were left unharmed.
Police with guns a blazing fired shots at Carey with innocent bystanders running for cover, putting the Capitol on lock down and causing havoc in our nation’s capital. This incident came just two weeks after a gun man entered the Navy Yard in Washington, DC and shot and killed 12 persons working there. No doubt the Navy Yard incident was on the minds of the officers involved which likely affected their actions.
While the Secret Service personnel have been praised by law enforcement for the acts committed against Carey as acting appropriately, a closer look should involve whether proper police protocol was followed. Law enforcement may say they needed to use other drastic measures because Carey attempted first to enter the White House barricade. This was not the first time that someone has attempted to enter the White House gates or barricades. On the same day as the Navy Yard killings, a man threw firecrackers, sounding like gun shots, over the White House fence and was arrested without being shot. Another man, Ohio resident, Joseph Reel, crashed his Jeep containing more than 200 rounds of ammunition into the steel barriers of the White House and jumped the fence to get onto the White House grounds on June 9, 2013. He was arrested without being shot and later indicted on charges. In fact, there have been others who climbed the White House gates or fence, flew over the no fly zone, protested too close to the gates and none were shot at or killed. They were subdued and arrested.
A closer examination needs to occur on whether law enforcement acted appropriately with their chase through city streets with shots being fired. The only shots fired were those of the police. “I’m more than certain that there was no need for a gun to be used (by police) when there was no gunfire coming from the vehicle,” Valarie Carey, a former NYPD Sergeant said. “I don’t know how their protocols are in D.C., but I do know how they are in New York City.” And on most chases through metropolitan areas, the police do not shoot, unless of course being shot at by the suspect. That was the case in Boston with the alleged Boston bomber suspects who were firing shots at the police during the chase. Carey did not shoot at police as she was unarmed. A recent 30 mile police chase involving two dozen police cars that occurred from Baltimore County into the District of Columbia on August 13, 2013 with an alleged felony suspect, involved no police shooting. Police laid down a spike strip which caused the tires of the vehicle to flatten. And later, they subdued and arrested the suspect. And in July, 2013, Park Police chased a vehicle from Washington, D.C. to Virginia without firing shots.
Some law enforcement state they had concern for whether unarmed Carey may have had a bomb. If she had a bomb, the firing of multiple shots by police would have perhaps made it go off. There appears to be little reason for that rationale and the firing of shots. Carey was shot while still inside the car, according to the police.
Law enforcement, particularly Secret Service, have applauded their efforts despite the fact that Carey had no weapons or had ever been convicted, arrested or charged with a crime. A different story would have emerged if the one year old baby had been shot and killed or if any innocent bystanders had been injured or killed by law enforcement. That’s the main reason that most police protocol do not allow for high speed chases through city streets with firing of shots unless the police are being shot at. Carey did no firing at police. Carey was unarmed.
The only weak justification by the police is the U.S. Capitol is on high alert because of the recent Navy Yard killing and police most likely jumped to the conclusion that Carey was another Navy Yard killer type or worse. But a different result occurred on the same day as the Navy Yard killing when an intruder attempted to illegally enter the White House grounds.
While the law enforcement involved are touting success with killing an unarmed woman and single mother who may have had mental issues, a closer examination should be conducted before any other unarmed Miriam Carey’s are shot and killed or worse, any innocent bystanders in the process. The only reason why the police are touting success is because no innocent person was injured or killed. But Miriam Carey, by all accounts, was also innocent of any act requiring an immediate penalty of death.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, former Maryland prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks blog who addresses issues on race, gender and class in law and politics. She regularly contributes articles to the Huffington Post and Women’s Media Center blog. She appears in national and local media as legal commentator, analyst and guest host including on C-Span, the Michael Eric Dyson Show, NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS TV affiliates, RT America, CBC- Canadian TV and XM Sirius radio.