An unspecified number of Secret Service officers as well as two U.S. Capitol Police officers involved in a Connecticut woman’s fatal shooting near the U.S. Capitol last week are off the streets while the incident is investigated.
Both agencies declined to provide details about the officers’ status or their exact involvement in the Oct. 3 shooting.
“The officers that were involved are on modified duty at headquarters,” said Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie, declining to disclose how many personnel were involved or the roles they played in the incident.
An official with the union that represents the agency’s officers said modified duty equates to “an administrative assignment” and that an internal inspections division makes the decision whether officers should be removed from their assignments. Officers also can be placed on administrative leave with or without pay when the circumstances warrant more severe separation.
“In this case, there was nothing to indicate or suggest that any of these officers involved did anything wrong. They followed Secret Service policy,” said Jon Adler, national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
Citing policy taught at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Mr. Adler added, “We discharge our weapons as a last resort to stop a lethal threat or a potential lethal threat to prevent serious bodily harm.”
The Secret Service declined to provide any details about its police policies on the use of force.
Though many police departments, including the District’s Metropolitan Police Department, specifically ban officers from firing at moving vehicles, federal law enforcement agencies have more leeway, Mr. Adler said.
“There is a lot more sensitivity because vehicles could be deployed by terrorist factions. We are authorized to fire at a vehicle when we see the vehicle being used as a lethal threat,” said Mr. Adler, whose association represents 65 federal law enforcement agencies. “When someone exudes irrational behavior, you have to be mindful of the fact they very well could be on a suicide mission.”
U.S. Capitol Police also declined to provide many details about officers’ involvement.
“We have two officers that are not on the street at the moment,” U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider said. “They are in a duty status with accordance to our policies.”
U.S. Capitol Police officers were placed on administrative leave after officers fatally shot a man who pulled a gun after a car chase in 2009.
The investigation centers around the use of deadly force against Miriam Carey, 34, who was fatally shot after leading police on a harrowing chase around the Capitol. The pursuit started when 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 with the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division. The officer then was struck by the bike rack and knocked to the ground, and Carey fled in the car.
The chase put the Capitol on lockdown as officers twice opened fire on Carey, fatally striking her when she was stopped by a blockade and threw her car in reverse in an attempt to flee.
Many police agencies place officers on administrative leave during investigations into the use of deadly force, but neither agency would speak about its own policies on the issue.
The Metropolitan Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division is investigating Carey’s death, but the U.S. attorney’s office will make the final determination as to whether the shooting was an appropriate use of lethal force, according to Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump.
The Secret Service and Capitol Police also are conducting internal investigations involving their protocols.
Mr. Adler said the Secret Service findings would be referred to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and then to the Department of Justice for review.