Officers from the Secret Service and the U.S. Capitol Police were justified in fatally shooting a Connecticut woman who led them on a high-speed chase around the Capitol in October, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday.
No criminal charges will be filed against the officers, as prosecutors "found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these officers used excessive force" in shooting Miriam Carey, said Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District, in a statement.
Police began to chase Carey, 34, after she drove her Nissan Infiniti though a security checkpoint outside the White House and struck a bicycle rack put into her path by an officer. The dental hygienist was fatally shot inside her car after she revved the engine and began to drive in reverse toward a Capitol Police officer, according to the statement issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Her 1-year-old daughter was in the back seat and was unharmed.
Officials have spent months investigating the series of events that sent the Capitol into lockdown and injured several police officers. A chronology outlined Thursday by officials provides the fullest detail of law enforcement officers' interactions with Carey during the seven-minute ordeal.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said officers twice opened fire on Carey's car, firing eight bullets as she maneuvered away from officers at Garfield Circle outside of the Capitol complex and another 18 rounds after her car was blocked by barriers raised at Second Street and Maryland Avenue NE.
Carey was shot a total of five times in the torso and neck, prosecutors said.
Her family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit seeking $75 million and claimed that the law enforcement agencies violated their own policies that ban them from firing at moving vehicles.
The family's attorney, Eric Saunders, said in a statement posted on his website Thursday that the decision not to bring criminal charges against the officers does not nullify the claim.
"Again, after an exhaustive review of all publicly available data, the Carey Family has concluded the shooting of Miriam Iris Carey was 'NOT JUSTIFIED,'" Mr. Saunders said. "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."
Carey had been diagnosed with postpartum depression and psychosis, and had run-ins with law enforcement when she lived in Stamford, Connecticut. Police records show she previously had told police that she believed she was under government surveillance and that President Obama communicated with her.
It remains unclear why Carey drove from her home with her daughter in tow to the District.
Investigators said she was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol that day.
Thursday's announcement comes after months of investigation, during which investigators interviewed more than 60 witnesses and reviewed evidence such as ballistics reports and video footage that captured the incident.
To bring criminal charges, prosecutors would have had to prove not only that the officers used excessive force but also that they "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," Mr. Machen's statement said. "Accident, mistake, fear, negligence and bad judgment do not establish such a criminal violation."
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