WASHINGTON — Add another national figure to the wide range of people gravely concerned about the 34-year-old unarmed mother who was gunned down at her car by U.S. Capitol Police – with her 14-month-old baby in the backseat.
Now it’s Blackwater security-firm founder and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince asking serious questions about the killing of Miriam Carey on Oct. 3.
The growing list of those doubting the official story from across the political spectrum suggests a broad sense of concern about the case, which has gone largely unreported by mainstream media.
While defending the record of his private security company in Iraq, Prince described to an interviewer on MSNBC how dangerous things happen not just in war zones, but even in the nation’s capital.
Prince recounted how the dental hygienist from Stamford, Conn., ended up dead at the hands of Secret Service agents and U.S. Capitol Police officers.
He pointed out, even though Carey had no weapons and no explosives but did have her infant daughter in her car, “federal police officers opened fire and killed an unarmed, innocent woman.”
Law enforcement and civil-liberties experts
Renowned liberal journalist and First Amendment expert Nat Hentoff, a former board member of the American Civil Liberties Union, told WND he believes police murdered the young mother.
The famed civil libertarian said from all of the evidence he had seen in WND's reports, which he called very thorough and easily corroborated, “[T]his is a classic case of police out of control and, therefore, guilty of plain murder.”
Conservative activist and former Graham County, Ariz., Sheriff Richard Mack told WND, “Miriam Carey should have been arrested, not shot.”
Mack called it “sloppy” police work and saw “no justification whatsoever” for the use of deadly force against Carey.
WND asked constitutional law expert John Whitehead, president and founder of the nonprofit civil-liberties organization the Rutherford Institute: Do you think Miriam Carey was murdered? While cautioning that he would have to look at the matter carefully, he answered on the basis of what he has seen so far: “In my opinion, yes. I think it was what they call a ‘bad shot,’ yes.”
Based on his experience in similar situations, Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent under three presidents including Barack Obama, told WND he understood the actions of law enforcement officers in a fast-moving and confusing situation and loathed to evaluate their decisions in hindsight.
But even he felt the situation, involving Secret Service agents at the White House, could have been handled better and doubted that those involved, or their superiors, would dispute that.
Saying the incident was absolutely not handled effectively, Bongino predicted it would lead to changes, including retraining and security modifications.
Still no investigation results
Almost three months after the shooting, The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police have still not released the results of their investigation of the incident that paralyzed Washington for a day. But legal experts from the left and right have seen enough evidence to call Carey’s death at the hands of police “murder.”
No one disputes that police pursued the Infiniti driven by Carey, who had her daughter with her in the backseat, and that when she stopped her vehicle near a Senate office building, an unknown number of shots rang out – all fired by law enforcement – and the single mother was killed. Her infant daughter was uninjured.
The media almost uniformly reported that a mentally unstable and dangerous woman rammed a gate at the White House, sped away and was eventually shot by police because she could have posed a security threat to the nation’s capital.
But the official record and video recordings raise numerous questions about that account.
Media versus reality
Mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times, NBC and ABC News all reported that Carey tried to ram a White House gate or checkpoint.
However, the initial police report did not mention a White House gate, a barrier or any attempt to ram anything.
The affidavit described the location as “a vehicle checkpoint to the White House” and said the driver “refused to stop at the vehicle checkpoint and made a U-turn and began to flee.”
The report did say a Secret Service officer “attempted to block the vehicle with a bicycle rack, however, the vehicle pushed over the bicycle rack, knocking the officer to the ground.”
Carey was initially portrayed in the media as a national security threat, but when that proved not to be true, she was characterized as mentally unstable.
WND interviewed the victim’s sister, Valarie Carey, and her attorney, Eric Sanders, who are both former New York City police officers.
Valarie Carey, a former police sergeant, took exception to the media’s description of her sister.
“The media tried to depict my sister as some kind of mentally ill person,” she said. “For some reason, that makes people think it was sort of OK that she was shot. She was not mentally ill. She had postpartum depression. If that’s a reason to kill a person, that’s a very sad lesson.”
Sanders declared, “I don’t care if she suffered from 15 mental conditions! And, by the way, police are trained to deal with those types of situations, too. So you can disregard that. We don’t know. The only thing we know is that the police pulled the trigger.”
The question, he said, is, “Why?”
Sanders has requested the Department of Justice launch a federal investigation into what happened and how the young mother ended up dead.
Alternatives to death
A WND review of the known facts revealed police may have posed a greater threat to public safety than Carey did.
It appears she never violated any law until police began pursuing her car. Officers, on the other hand, fired numerous shots at her in a crowded public space near the White House, as the video below shows.
“What happened to this woman is an extraordinary example of how police have no limits when they get into this sort of situation,” maintained Hentoff.
Mack and Whitehead both strongly believe the police should have handled the car chase much differently, and that they ignored a number of non-lethal alternatives.
“They’re stacked with them (non-lethal weapons.) Stop the car. She’s a female with a kid in the car,” Whitehead said. “If it turns out she’s crazy, you can take her down with a Taser. Or pepper spray. Do it properly.”
Mack said police missed an opportunity when they first had her car surrounded, which was precisely when they should have blocked her in with their vehicles.
Indeed, the video shot at the Garfield Monument shows police had that opportunity. Instead, two, perhaps even three, cruisers parked behind Carey’s car, rather than boxing her in on the passenger side.
Because officers did not surround Carey then and there, they left her a clear path to leave the scene. The audio on the video recorded police firing at least seven shots as she departed.
The former sheriff said firing those shots under those circumstances is against policy in most police agencies, but, “Regardless, Carey’s action did not even come close to allowing police shooting at her.”
The fact there was a child in the car further complicated the decision to shoot. The police report does not say whether officers saw the child in the car.
But the video shows five of the six officers who surrounded her vehicle on foot appeared to get an extremely close and clear look inside. It would seem difficult to believe that at least one of them did not see the toddler in the car seat.
Mack said they had to have seen that a child was in the car, making the need for restraint by the police even more necessary. Furthermore, he said the use of deadly force under those circumstances should have been absolutely forbidden.
“The police showed utter indifference for the safety of the baby and fired their guns without provocation,” he concluded. “The decedent (Carey) did violate some traffic laws, but such does not give police justification for using lethal force.”
The victim's sister, Valarie Carey told WND, “As an officer, you have to ask yourself, ‘What is going on here?’ No one is firing a weapon at you, so why are you firing?”