Congress has slammed the Secret Service for incompetency during the past week, but last year’s fatal Capitol Hill shooting involving officers from the agency received only a fleeting, neutral mention.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., spoke of the difficult job agents have making “instant life-or-death decisions in extremely stressful situations,” during his opening remarks in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing exploring failures by the Secret Service.
“Last year, for example, the Capitol Police shot and killed an unarmed woman with a 1-year-old girl in the backseat of her car,” Cummings said, referring to the Oct. 3, 2013, shooting of Miriam Carey. “Some praised their quick responses. Others criticized their actions. But they acted based upon their firsthand experience right here in the Capitol when another deranged individual burst through the doors and killed two Capitol Police officers,” he said of Russell Weston’s 1998 rampage .
Carey’s family hopes to rally critics on the first anniversary of the shooting for a silent protest planned for 1 p.m. near the James A. Garfield Monument southwest of the Capitol. Eight rounds were fired at Carey there, following a wild car chase from the White House to Capitol Hill with her 13-month-old baby in tow. She was not wounded there, investigators say. About one minute later, Carey later sustained five gunshot wounds to her neck and torso — one fatal — on the northeast side of the Capitol, where officers fired another 18 rounds.
Carey’s family will call her name five times, once for each of the bullets that struck her, at 2:15 p.m. They will also release five butterflies.
In February, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Capitol Police and uniformed division of the Secret Service. They say the police willfully killed the unarmed black woman, despite the July report released by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia that found Carey drove directly at multiple law enforcement officers. The family has called on Congress to investigate, but lawmakers say they trust the DOJ report that exonerated the officer’s actions.
The Carey shooting forced the complex into lockdown last year, halting legislative business in the House and Senate, where lawmakers were fighting about how to pass a continuing resolution. Thanks to a partial federal government shutdown, the officers responding that day weren’t sure when they would see their next paycheck.
One year later, Capitol Police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Carey are back on duty and the department is still conducting its internal review of the incident. Lawmakers grilled Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine about the events when he appeared before an appropriations panel in the spring, but have said little else about the incident.
During the 2013 chase, Carey narrowly avoided a head-on collision with another vehicle in Garfield Circle, where she arrived after weaving her black Infiniti down Pennsylvania Avenue at high speeds, ignoring red lights. Officers surrounded her car, commanding her to exit and attempting to open her locked doors, but Carey ignored them and put her vehicle in reverse. She rammed the marked cruiser positioned behind the car, then drove forward onto the sidewalk. Officers then fired eight shots.
Carey kept driving, clearing a curb and striking an unmarked Supreme Court police officer’s vehicle that had stopped in front of the Hart Senate Office Building. Ignoring multiple commands from the officers running toward her with their guns drawn, Carey revved her engine and reversed. Investigators say she drove directly at a Capitol Police officer who was approaching the vehicle from behind.
That offer ran towards the median and began firing at the car, along with a Secret Service officer who also had fired shots at Garfield Circle. The two officers fired nine rounds each. Her vehicle crashed into a kiosk near 2nd Street and Maryland Avenue Northeast and came to rest, according to the report.